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Inherited from Middle English relicte (widow), from Middle French relicte (widow), from Late Latin relicta (widow), from Latin relictus, past participle of relinquō (I abandon, I relinquish, I leave (behind)), from re- + linquō (I leave, quit, forsake, depart from).


  • IPA(key): /ˈɹɛlɪkt/
    • (file)


relict (plural relicts)

  1. (formal) Something that, or someone who, survives or remains or is left over after the loss of others; a relic.
    1. (archaic) The surviving member of a married couple after one or the other has died; a widow or widower.
      • 1801, in the Reports of cases decided in the High court of Chancery of Maryland, volume 3, page 268:
        Upon which the Chancellor, by way of note said, 'it is suggested, that there is a relict of the deceased, married to another man, who has joined her in a power of attorney to authorize the sale of her interest, [] '
      • 1973, Patrick O'Brian, HMS Surprise:
        But I am not the penniless nonentity I was when we first met; I can offer an honorable if not a brilliant marriage; and at the very lowest I can provide my wife – my widow, my relict – with a decent competence, an assured future.
    2. (biology, ecology) A species, organism, or ecosystem that has survived from a previous age: one that was once widespread but is now found only in a few areas.
      • 2010, M. Zimmerman et al., Jan Christian Habel, Thorsten Assmann, editor, Relict Species: Phylogeography and Conservation Biology, page 324:
        The species may be a relict of former stages of historical vegetation and landscape development resulting from past climate changes (glacial and post- glacial periods).
    3. (geology) A structure or other feature that has survived from a previous age.
      • 2011, Mark Keiter, Chris Ballhaus, Frank Tomaschek, A New Geological Map of the Island of Syros (Aegean Sea, Greece), page 16:
        Dark rims around the pillows are caused by glaucophane enrichment, possibly a relict of a primary interaction between basalt and seawater, causing Na- enrichment in the original glass crust of the pillows.
    4. (linguistics) A survival of an archaic word, language or other form.
      A small number of linguists believe that Cimbrian is not an Austro-Bavarian dialect but a relict of Lombardic.



relict (not comparable)

  1. Surviving, remaining.
  2. That is a relict; pertaining to a relict.
    • 1992, Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses, page 97:
      In the lakes and in the streams were species of fish not known elsewhere on earth and birds and lizards and other forms of life as well all long relict here for the desert stretched away on every side.

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From German relikt or Latin relictus.


relict m or n (feminine singular relictă, masculine plural relicți, feminine and neuter plural relicte)

  1. (biology) relict