Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Something that has survived the passage of time, especially an object or custom whose original culture has disappeared: "Corporal punishment was a relic of barbarism” ( Cyril Connolly).
  • n. Something cherished for its age or historic interest.
  • n. An object kept for its association with the past; a memento.
  • n. An object of religious veneration, especially a piece of the body or a personal item of a saint.
  • n. A corpse; remains.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. That which remains; that which is left after loss or decay; a remaining portion.
  • n. Something old kept for sentimental reasons.
  • n. A part of the body of a saint, or an ancient religious object, kept for veneration.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. That which remains; that which is left after loss or decay; a remaining portion; a remnant.
  • n. The body from which the soul has departed; a corpse; especially, the body, or some part of the body, of a deceased saint or martyr; -- usually in the plural when referring to the whole body.
  • n. Hence, a memorial; anything preserved in remembrance.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. That which remains; that which is left after the consumption, loss, or decay of the rest.
  • n. The body of a deceased person; a corpse, as deserted by the soul.
  • n. That which is preserved in remembrance; a memento; a sonvenir; a keepsake.
  • n. An object held in reverence or affection because connected with some sacred or beloved person deceased; specifically, in the Roman Catholic Church, the Gr. Ch., and some other churches, a saint's body or part of it, or an object supposed to have been connected with the life or body of Christ, of the Virgin Mary, or of some saint or martyr, and regarded therefore as a personal memorial worthy of religions veneration.
  • n. Something dear or precious.
  • n. A monument.
  • n. Synonyms Remains, Relics. The remains of a dead person are his corpse or his literary works; in the latter case they are, for the sake of distinction, generally called literary remains. We speak also of the remains of a feast, of a city, building, monument, etc. Relics always suggests antiquity; as, the relics of ancient sovereigns, heroes, and especially saints. The singular of relics is used; that of remains is not.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. something of sentimental value
  • n. an antiquity that has survived from the distant past

Etymologies

Middle English relik, object of religious veneration, from Old French relique, from Late Latin reliquiae, sacred relics, from Latin, remains, from reliquus, remaining, from relinquere, relīqu-, to leave behind; see relinquish.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English, from Old French, from Latin reliquiae ("remains, relics"), from relinquō ("I leave behind, abandon, relinquish"), from re- + linquō ("I leave, quit, forsake, depart from"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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