Definition of relic in English:



  • 1An object surviving from an earlier time, especially one of historical or sentimental interest.

    • ‘An extraordinary collection of photographs, relics and contemporary social pieces has been unveiled at the National Library of Australia, in Canberra.’
    • ‘This may appear justified when you consider that foreigners such as the British and Italians are guilty of looting historical relics.’
    • ‘Narrow staircases lead to vast, warehouse-sized chambers, and relics are scattered about the place.’
    • ‘Some of the most interesting photographs are of relics from the War of 1812 and a captured bell from the Philippine Insurrection of 1899.’
    • ‘It has some 4 million residents and is known for its beaches, hot springs, resorts and historic relics.’
    • ‘It offers budget accommodation and has books and relics highlighting the history of the area.’
    • ‘Like relics from an earlier age, they appeared gaunt, angular, rugged and unshaven!’
    • ‘Great buildings of government are important and in some cases, historical relics in and of themselves.’
    • ‘The Fort is a treasure house of priceless relics - miniatures, paintings, howdahs, palanquins and arms - all displayed with an astute eye for aesthetics and history.’
    • ‘Both men support the proposal for a military museum in Geraldton where such relics will be displayed.’
    • ‘The three rooms in the cottage are furnished as they would have been in the pioneering days and many relics of interest have been donated to add to the display.’
    • ‘The saddle no longer looked like an interesting historical relic but an instrument of torture.’
    • ‘By the 1840s, however, there was growing interest in antiques, and this bowl may well have been given to the church as a historical relic.’
    • ‘I would like to start by making it clear that, for the most part, I am in favour of the preservation of historical relics for both the enjoyment of, and study by, both our own and future generations.’
    • ‘Plans also call for a small underground exhibition space and archive containing photos, relics and historical information about the Holocaust.’
    • ‘Even more tragic is the loss of thousands of cultural and historical relics.’
    • ‘It's loaded with ceramic artifacts and historical relics.’
    • ‘Almost all the early Egyptian relics in England were brought back by travellers.’
    • ‘It's a city packed full of historical monuments and relics, of myths and legends, which seem to come to life every time you walk through its century old streets.’
    • ‘Models of historic buildings and cultural relics enable architects and archaeologists to study their subject in closer detail than might otherwise be possible.’
    artefact, historical object, ancient object, antiquity, antique, heirloom, object of virtu, curio
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    1. 1.1A part of a deceased holy person's body or belongings kept as an object of reverence.
      • ‘Here too were the holy relics of colonial Ireland passing through closure into our new present.’
      • ‘He could invoke saints and employ relics, sprinkle holy water and exorcise the devil.’
      • ‘The holy relic is believed to protect the 25 sq. km. former Portuguese colony, on the doorstep of China, from natural disasters.’
      • ‘With the canonisation of the Confessor in 1161, his regalia gained the status of holy relics, further increasing the veneration with which they were regarded.’
      • ‘The reverence shown for relics has roots in the celebration of the Eucharist over the graves of the first Christian martyrs.’
      • ‘This Sunday, October 26, a record number of people are expected at Knock Shrine when the relics of Mother Teresa will arrive.’
      • ‘The violence he remembered was no local riot: it was part of a chain of violence that had been set off by the theft of a holy relic from the Hazrat Bal mosque in 1964.’
      • ‘Pilgrimages to the sites of miracles and holy relics grew ever more popular, and the number of such places increased.’
      • ‘The palace and the king also attracted many holy relics whose number and quality bestowed prestige and authority on their owner.’
      • ‘Luther lived at a time when the bible was only available in Latin, when the Church exploited people by selling holy relics for salvation.’
      • ‘These holy relics were keenly sought after as the people saw their purchase as a way of pleasing God.’
      • ‘Instead of being regarded with panic or horror, these relics are reverenced.’
      • ‘It is exhilarating to visit these monasteries, as also the Buddhist Museum which has Buddhist relics excavated from various parts of India.’
      • ‘First degree relics are remains of a saint's body or any of their body parts.’
      • ‘He had a profoundly religious nature and built the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, to house holy relics brought from Constantinople.’
      • ‘Indeed, there is a relic in the historical museum of the University of Lund which is said to be a piece of the tree under which the Holy Family rested on their famous journey.’
      • ‘The doctors who were tending to the Pope during his final hours are auctioning off a sample of the Pope's blood as a holy relic.’
      • ‘Their great old houses overflow with rough medieval furniture, threadbare tapestries and religious relics worn smooth by the touch of generations.’
      • ‘They apparently have holy relics stored in the crypt.’
      • ‘People have a long history of conserving paintings, buildings and religious relics.’
      remains, body parts, bones
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    2. 1.2An object, custom, or belief that has survived from an earlier time but is now outmoded.
      ‘individualized computer programming and time-sharing would become expensive relics’
      • ‘Some historians indicated that the four western Kavango groups of today are most probably some of the oldest relics of the earliest inhabitants of central Africa.’
      • ‘He and his type would be regarded as living fossils, relics of an earlier era.’
      • ‘It, in a sense, is a relic of an earlier age of procedure.’
      • ‘In Scotland, however, the old code remained legal and came to be viewed simultaneously as a relic of outmoded ways of life and as a sign of modernity.’
      • ‘Coombs was a relic of an earlier, gentler time, when the privacy of public officials (even politicians) was normally regarded as sacrosanct.’
      • ‘Likewise, when talkies replaced silent movies, many stars of the earlier era were unable to adapt and became human relics.’
      • ‘The award is something of a quaint relic - freemen have the right to graze sheep on common ground.’
      • ‘But in election year 2004, the film views like a historical relic.’
      • ‘No longer a ‘basic sauce’, the demi-glace is now considered to be a relic of an archaic form of cookery referred to respectfully as cuisine classique but no longer practised.’
      • ‘The Italian urban landscape was filled with shrines, relics, icons, and various forms of religious theatre that brought the holy directly into the lives of people.’
      • ‘Needless to say, with the rapid improvements being made in DLP technology, in a few years both color breakup and motion artifacts will likely be historical relics.’
      • ‘They are relics of an earlier, darkly seductive era.’
      • ‘I hope also to show that perennial philosophy is not an historical relic, a cast-off from an alien time, fit only for the cramped exegesis of modern historians of ideas.’
      • ‘Some worry that after 96 years its members have become disengaged, its methods anachronistic relics of 1960s protest.’
      • ‘To them, Sonny was an anachronism, a relic from a primitive time when the locomotive was technology's cutting edge.’
      • ‘Thirty years from now the big university campuses will be relics.’
      • ‘But, somehow, those posters seemed past it, (like himself) relics of an earlier decade.’
      • ‘The 65,000-square-foot structure was a relic of the 1970s, designed to house the post office's old computer system.’
      • ‘The kings and the Council of Elders are relics of an archaic system.’
      • ‘What is so important about her is that even at the age of 92, she is no relic of the early twentieth century but continues to be a prolific commentator on her world.’
    3. 1.3All that is left of something.
      ‘relics of a lost civilization’
      • ‘We imitated the West in creating museums to house the relics of our past, whereas traditionally we had lived with our past in our daily present.’
      • ‘No longer living beings, they stare out at us as preserved relics from a lost time.’
      • ‘But you can also see it in the hint of a new cinema born from the relics of its own history.’
      • ‘There were far fewer rich private carriages in the streets, and any number of bits of furniture or other battered relics of aristocratic or pious living could be bought from street dealers.’
      • ‘There is no need to collect relics of his life.’
      • ‘Among the treasured relics of Bill's Air Force sporting career is a timber trophy, which he refers to as his ‘big egg cup’.’
      • ‘And today, the United Nations has declared cities that have preserved relics of that era as World Heritage Sites.’
      • ‘Trees grow out of the windows and rotted roofs of stately old brick homes, relics of bygone opulence.’
      • ‘Rationally speaking, it is one of a small family of great universal museums, the huge monster museums which are relics of the imperial period of history.’


Middle English: from Old French relique (originally plural), from Latin reliquiae (see reliquiae).