Definition of remnant in US English:



  • 1A small remaining quantity of something.

    • ‘She wiped away the last remnants of her tears.’
    • ‘Nearby is the Bosco di Mesola, the only remnant of the woodland which once covered most of the delta area: here Italy's last surviving native population of red deer took refuge, protected by the malarial swamps all around.’
    • ‘Jewish people who are aware of this history know that if they lose control over Jerusalem, they will inevitably lose access to the only remnant of their Holy Temple.’
    • ‘Less than one percent remains in scattered rainforest remnants.’
    • ‘Water dripped from the ceiling, and in one corner we found burnt remnants of clothing.’
    • ‘We will find them and we will defeat these remnants of the former regime.’
    • ‘It happened in front of the Western Wall, the last remnant of the Second Temple.’
    • ‘The insurgents represent the remnants of a regime of torture and repression.’
    • ‘Nine hundred years later, the remnant of their empire is a small, weary nation, divided between two countries, with a bad reputation due west, and a genetic legacy like no other, stretching from the Pacific to the Caspian Sea.’
    • ‘I will not let him destroy the last remnants of our family.’
    • ‘Last night, the remnants of the terrorist army were fleeing under heavy American bombing.’
    • ‘The discovery suggests that many other fossil bones may contain well-preserved remnants of bone marrow, the scientists say.’
    • ‘Now scientists have plans to save its remnants from the rising tide of development.’
    • ‘Now, less than one percent remains as fragmented remnants scattered across 75,000 hectares.’
    • ‘There has also been a concerted effort to preserve the remnants of the World Trade Centre.’
    • ‘To one side, the tattered remnants of spacesuits collected dust on old shelves.’
    • ‘The coalfield represents an erosional remnant of the South Wales coal basin preserved within the Variscan fold belt.’
    • ‘The remnants of the French armies were able to retreat to the frontier but Spain was lost.’
    • ‘Bottomland hardwood forests and remnants of swamp forests can be found near the flood control reservoirs.’
    • ‘A remnant of the old army is supporting and perhaps leading the current chaos.’
    remains, remainder, leftovers, leavings, residue, rest
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    1. 1.1 A piece of cloth or carpeting left when the greater part has been used or sold.
      • ‘The warehouse is a treasure trove of inexpensive art supplies, including fabric remnants, wallpaper samples, tiles, and picture frames.’
      • ‘To complete the holiday look use fabric remnants to make holiday table runners or simply wrap your table in holiday paper.’
      • ‘Instead, I'll probably just cut a hunk of carpet remnant to fit the small area of exposed bed.’
      • ‘Since dealers tend to sell remnants at a discount, it's well worth the extra effort.’
      • ‘Other quick-change options include crocheted doilies, printed tea towels, monogrammed napkins, or hemmed fabric remnants.’
      • ‘Check your fabric stash, or purchase remnants that can be cut and used for patches.’
      • ‘She lost her balance and fell headfirst onto a 1-cm thick piece of plush carpet remnant covering the concrete floor.’
      • ‘Willie made me beautiful dresses, even if she used leftover pieces and remnants.’
      • ‘A species of knitted golem stretched out on the floor, it extracts sense memories of his childhood home from the Urals folk custom of making carpets out of fabric remnants.’
      • ‘Add some batting, wadding or any padding that you can find then cover this with a fabric remnant before hot gluing cones, fruits or any other harvest decorations and a large bow to the wreath.’
      • ‘You can even make your own by using two foot high section of a four by four, two foot by two foot piece of heavy plywood and a carpet remnant.’
      • ‘If you're using corduroy remnants, cut the strips across the fabric grain with the cords running perpendicular to the strip length.’
      scrap, piece, bit, fragment, shred, offcut, oddment
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    2. 1.2 A surviving trace.
      ‘a remnant of the past’
      • ‘One of the men was the perfect Westernised gentleman: a suit, a hat and a walking stick by his side - a remnant of the Raj.’
      • ‘Margaret's was the last royal birth which needed to be witnessed by a government minister, a remnant of the days when changelings were smuggled in on warming pans.’
      • ‘As much as the concept of community had developed, humans still had a capacity for wanting the best for themselves, the remnant of survival instincts.’
      • ‘The giant global corporations of today are but an unfortunate remnant of this past era.’
      • ‘They are working fast to stop an industrial estate from destroying remnants of the war.’
      • ‘Wolves do not need orders, some remnant of her tribal pride growled.’
      • ‘For folklorists generally, folk beliefs and practices were regarded as the fragmentary and often obscure remnants of older systems.’
      • ‘With so many remnants of colonial policies surviving in India, what could have been just a curious insight thus becomes sadly relevant.’
      • ‘This U.S. military support, a remnant of America's Cold War containment policy, prevents China from using force to end the impasse.’
      • ‘Some small remnant of the fever must have clung to her, for she tossed and turned for hours before giving in to a light and unrefreshing sleep.’
      • ‘She had come to forget that she had it most of the time, just another remnant of the childhood she couldn't remember.’
      • ‘Now whether it's a vestigial remnant of a day past is something that I question very much.’
      • ‘As a textually bound remnant of the past, he is already determined, ‘enslaved’ in Browning's metaphor, by the documentary record into which he has been interpolated.’
      • ‘The last remnant of outside light was now fading into the driving wind and snow.’
      • ‘I stared frantically up into his face, searching his eyes for any remnant of normality.’
      • ‘Outside of this relatively unchanged remnant of the old way of life, Algerian cities are a mix of Western influence and Arabic tradition.’
      • ‘Scattered remnants of the hawkers' presence littered the darkened scene.’
      • ‘Above the violence and social injustice rises a battle to survive and maintain a remnant of integrity.’
      • ‘Everywhere he looked twisted beams loomed up out of the sand like monoliths, the only remnant of a destroyed civilization.’
      • ‘Nothing is as it once was, and the survivors cling to remnants from their past.’
    3. 1.3Christian Theology A small minority of people who will remain faithful to God and so be saved (in allusion to biblical prophecies concerning Israel).
      • ‘The concept of a remnant emerges - a faithful minority whose response to God is sincere and who thereby single themselves out as the bearers of a unique commission to the rest of the nation.’


  • attributive Remaining.

    ‘remnant strands of hair’
    • ‘The ghost presence of the boiler hail can be inferred from the thickness of low remnant perimeter walls and the scarified twelve metre high wall to the turbine room, which is now the entry elevation.’
    • ‘In low-income countries with small remnant forest areas, for instance the Ivory Coast, population growth appears to increase the rate of deforestation.’
    • ‘The English aristocrat recognised the historical importance of remnant business houses and early pearling masters' homes, and set about restoring some of Broome's architectural origins.’
    • ‘By the mid 1950s - 60s, the UK's once-thriving population had been reduced to remnant populations in the south west of England, East Anglia, parts of Wales and Scotland.’
    • ‘The maneuverability of Opportunity is a factor as well, because remnant boulders from the impact may litter the rim.’
    • ‘Remnant patches were very similar in structure, tree composition, and mean diameter.’
    • ‘There is still a major issue in terms of managing all of the remnant vegetation.’
    • ‘Conservation of remnant scrub vegetation is a matter of state and national concern.’
    • ‘The frogs occupy a 16-ha stand of remnant native forest on Maud Island.’
    • ‘But the stories of this remnant student activism almost inevitably leave out an enormous upsurge in pro-Israel activities on these same campuses.’
    • ‘The first part of the track is a zigzag through remnant native forest.’
    • ‘The other problem from which these remnant patches suffer, he says, are invasions by weeds and introduced plants from developed adjacent land.’
    • ‘Here, we report on the genetic composition of red oaks in remnant old-growth forest in Indiana.’
    • ‘Provision of geographic links between existing areas of remnant vegetation potentially facilitating gene flow and dispersal among populations of species that have become ecological islands due to clearing.’
    • ‘By 1900, only 1,000 to 2,000 animals remained, scattered in remnant populations.’
    • ‘Keeping the sea on the left, the road passes through acres of paddy fields, interspersed with areca gardens and the odd patch of remnant rain forest.’
    • ‘The new label permits the product's use in the European Union for the ablation of remnant thyroid tissue, a procedure that patients commonly undergo when being treated for thyroid cancer.’
    • ‘They also found remnant ingots from the 1951/52 salvage operation.’
    • ‘However despite everyone's best efforts, all our forest and remnant vegetation was wiped out.’
    • ‘For example agricultural land where the native vegetation has been largely cleared through broadscale clearing, and we're left with remnant patches or islands of native vegetation and biodiversity.’


Middle English: contraction of obsolete remenant from Old French remenant, from remenoir, remanoir ‘remain’.