1. 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).
2. Something cherished for its age or historic interest.
3. An object kept for its association with the past; a memento.
4. An object of religious veneration, especially a piece of the body or a personal item of a saint.
5. or relics A corpse; remains.
[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.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.