• IPA: /ˈɹɛlɪk/

relic (plural relics)

  1. That which remains; that which is left after loss or decay; a remaining portion.
    • c. 1602, William Shakespeare, All’s Well That Ends Well, Act V, Scene 3,
      […] let him not ask our pardon;
      The nature of his great offence is dead,
      And deeper than oblivion we do bury
      The incensing relics of it […]
    • 1716, Thomas Browne, Christian Morals, 2nd edition edited by Samuel Johnson, London: J. Payne, 1756, Part I, p. 12,
      Though a cup of cold water from some hand may not be without its reward, yet stick not thou for wine and oil for the wounds of the distressed; and treat the poor, as our SAVIOUR did the multitude, to the reliques of some baskets.
    • 1797, Ann Radcliffe, The Italian, London: T. Cadell Jun. & W. Davies, Volume 2, Chapter 6, p. 184,
      It appeared, from […] the ruins scattered distantly along its skirts, to be a part of the city entirely abandoned by the modern inhabitants to the reliques of its former grandeur.
    • 1850, Wilkie Collins, Antonina, or, The Fall of Rome, London: Richard Bentley, Volume I, Chapter 1, pp. 10-11,
      She exerted the last relics of her wasted strength to gain a prominent position upon a ledge of the rocks behind her […]
    • 1903, W. E. B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black People, Chapter 3,
      […] they know that the low social level of the mass of the race is responsible for much discrimination against it, but they also know, and the nation knows, that relentless color-prejudice is more often a cause than a result of the Negro’s degradation; they seek the abatement of this relic of barbarism, and not its systematic encouragement and pampering by all agencies of social power from the Associated Press to the Church of Christ.
  2. Something old and outdated, possibly kept for sentimental reasons.
    • 1847, Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre, Volume I, Chapter 11, p. 197,
      […] the imperfect light entering by their narrow casements showed bedsteads of a hundred years old; chests in oak or walnut, looking, with their strange carvings of palm branches and cherubs’ heads, like types of the Hebrew ark; rows of venerable chairs, high-backed and narrow; stools still more antiquated, on whose cushioned tops were yet apparent traces of half-effaced embroideries, wrought by fingers that for two generations had been coffin-dust. All these relics gave to the third storey of Thornfield Hall the aspect of a home of the past: a shrine of memory.
    • 1991, U.S. News & World Report (volume 116, issues 9-16, page 72)
      Published in 1982, the now out-of-print computer guide is a real relic, full of dozens of black-and-white pictures of large, bulky computers that you would sooner find in the Smithsonian than on anybody's desk today.
  3. (religion) A part of the body of a saint, or an ancient religious object, kept for veneration.
    • 1623, John Webster, The Duchess of Malfi, Act III, Scene 2,
      Why should only I,
      Of all the other princes of the world,
      Be cas’d up like a holy relic?
    • 1748, Tobias Smollett, The Adventures of Roderick Random, London: J. Osborn, Volume 2, Chapter 57, p. 226,
      No Anchorite in the exstasy of devotion, ever adored a relique with more fervour than that with which I kissed this inimitable proof of my charmer’s candour, generosity and affection!
    • 1762, David Hume, The History of England, London: A. Millar, Volume I, Chapter 3, p. 135,
      […] the duke, in order to support their drooping hopes, ordered a procession to be made with the reliques of St. Valori, and prayers to be said for more favourable weather.
    • 1920, Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence, Book 2, Chapter 34,
      During that time he had been living with his youthful memory of her; but she had doubtless had other and more tangible companionship. Perhaps she too had kept her memory of him as something apart; but if she had, it must have been like a relic in a small dim chapel, where there was not time to pray every day....
Synonyms Related terms Translations
  • Russian: оста́нки
Translations Translations Verb

relic (relics, present participle relicing; past and past participle reliced)

  1. (transitive, uncommon, often of guitars) To cause (an object) to appear old or worn, to distress.

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