I'm writing a story in which certain objects no longer exist. I was going to refer to them as "relics" but a relic is something from a bygone age that survived the passage of time and now exists in our time.

What do you call something that no longer exists. I need a word that conveys the idea that these inanimate objects did once exist but no longer do.

Edit: I didn't want to reveal too much but I guess I need to add context. A character in my story is ancient. He is from a time when stars still existed but the stars have long since faded away and have been forgotten by everyone except him. In passing he mentions how he misses the stars and another character asks him what stars are. He says something along the lines of "Relics of a bygone age".

I'm looking for a word that replaces "relics" and implies that the stars did not survive the passage of time.

  • 1
    Could you give a sentence with a blank to stimulate ideas? Sep 30, 2017 at 7:56
  • 1
    I updated my post. I hope it helps.
    – Ouro
    Sep 30, 2017 at 8:09
  • DEFUNCT, NONEXISTENT, BYGONE, ONE-TIME can perhaps be suitable! Sep 30, 2017 at 8:58
  • @mahmudkoya Ouro is looking for a noun to replace "Relics" in his sentence: an adjective will not fit (quite apart from the sentence already containing bygone).
    – Andrew Leach
    Sep 30, 2017 at 9:06
  • I started writing an answer suggesting reminder but trying to explain why that works for me (the wistful thinking on what has passed away, in this case) was too difficult. And it strayed into writing advice anyway.
    – Andrew Leach
    Sep 30, 2017 at 9:14

1 Answer 1


A word which does not literally refer directly to the vanished objects but can work in the example phrase by metonymy is memories. A web search for just memories now turns up many prior examples of this usage. E.g.

Eastman Kodak and Polaroid are just memories now.

from Kirby Engineering: West Coast Project by George Clapper. The companies are not literally memories, but since memories are all that remain* he can figuratively say that they are.

* Not literally true either, but that's not the point.

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