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A Christian relic (a bone of a saint)

Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English relik et al., from Old French relique, from Latin reliquiae (remains, relics), from relinquō (I leave behind, abandon, relinquish), from re- + linquō (I leave, quit, forsake, depart from).


  • IPA(key): /ˈɹɛlɪk/
  • (file)


relic (plural relics)

  1. That which remains; that which is left after loss or decay; a remaining portion.
    Synonyms: remnant, remainder, residue; see also Thesaurus:remainder
    • c. 1604–1605 (date written), William Shakespeare, “All’s Well, that Ends Well”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act V, scene iii]:
      [] 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 []
    • c. 1670s (date written), Thomas Brown [i.e., Thomas Browne], “(please specify the section)”, in John Jeffery, editor, Christian Morals, [], Cambridge, Cambridgeshire: [] [A]t the University-Press, for Cornelius Crownfield printer to the University; and are to be sold by Mr. Knapton []; and Mr. [John] Morphew [], published 1716, →OCLC, part I, page 5:
      Though a Cup of cold water from ſome hand may not be without it's reward, yet ſtick not thou for Wine and Oyl 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,[1]
      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, chapter 1, in Antonina, or, The Fall of Rome[2], volume I, London: Richard Bentley, pages 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 April 18, W[illiam] E[dward] Burghardt Du Bois, “Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others”, in The Souls of Black Folk: Essays and Sketches, Chicago, Ill.: A[lexander] C[aldwell] McClurg & Co., →OCLC, page 53:
      [T]hey 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 October 16, Currer Bell [pseudonym; Charlotte Brontë], chapter XI, in Jane Eyre. An Autobiography. [], volume I, London: Smith, Elder, and Co., [], →OCLC, page 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, numbers 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.
    Synonym: (archaic) halidom

Usage notes[edit]

By comparison with synonyms, relic emphasizes age, and to some degree value – a “relic of a lost civilization”.

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]



relic (third-person singular simple present relics, present participle relicing or relicking, simple past and past participle reliced or relicked)

  1. (transitive, uncommon, often of guitars) To cause (an object) to appear old or worn, to distress.
    • 2009, Trevor Pinch, David Reinecke, “Technostalgia: How old gear lives on in new music”, in Karin Bijsterveld, José van Dijck, editors, Sound Souvenirs: Audio Technologies, Memory and Cultural Practices, page 152:
      Age has become a fetish in the world of guitars where large amounts of money are paid for a specially “reliced” guitar. As one company, Relic Guitars, which offers this service claims, “The idea behind relicing a guitar is to artificially replicate the natural wear that occurs over many years []
    • 2012, Will Kelly, How to Build Electric Guitars[3], page 81:
      The whole idea of relicing an instrument is to accelerate the wear and tear that normally occurs over decades.
    • 2017 January 19, “Fender® Custom Shop Commemorates 30th Anniversary Milestone With Founders Design Project Debuting At 2017 Winter NAMM”, in PR Newswire[4]:
      He's since run his own shop, building, winding/making pickups, doing restorations and relicing guitars.

Further reading[edit]


Old Irish[edit]




  1. third-person singular perfect prototonic of léicid


Old Irish mutation
Radical Lenition Nasalization
also ·rrelic
pronounced with /-r(ʲ)-/
Note: Some of these forms may be hypothetical. Not every
possible mutated form of every word actually occurs.