co·​dex | \ ˈkō-ˌdeks How to pronounce codex (audio) \
plural codices\ ˈkō-​də-​ˌsēz How to pronounce codex (audio) , ˈkä-​ How to pronounce codex (audio) \

Definition of codex

: a manuscript book especially of Scripture, classics, or ancient annals

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In the 3rd and 4th centuries A.D., the codex began to replace the older scroll as the preferred form for longer writings. Unlike the scroll, this wonderful invention permitted writing on both sides of a sheet, made it easy to locate a particular passage, and could contain a very long piece of writing. Codices (note this unusual plural form) were usually written on parchment, the specially prepared skin of a sheep or goat, or papyrus, the ancestor of paper. Because codices were handwritten, there were few copies of any single codex, and sometimes only a single copy. Today we no longer write our books in longhand, but the modern book has kept basically the same form as the original codices.

Examples of codex in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The codex’s text is divided into weekly sections as read in synagogues. Edward Rothstein, WSJ, 21 Apr. 2022 Italy’s acquisitive Medici dynasty acquired it a few decades after the codex was completed. Los Angeles Times, 28 Dec. 2021 She is drawn to papyrus and codex, fragment and play. Casey Cep, The New Yorker, 1 Nov. 2021 An image from an Aztec-era codex that Ramírez-Oropeza showed me depicts the goddess Quilaztli or Cihuacoatl pulverizing the bones on a metate, a slanted stone grinding tool found in Mexico to this day, usually used for breaking down corn. Steve Padilla, Los Angeles Times, 28 Oct. 2021 Two thousand years after the codex and 500 after the Gutenberg press, the book persists. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, 14 Sep. 2021 The quake coincided with a solar eclipse—a phenomenon represented in the codex by a circle with lightning bolts coming out of it. Isis Davis-marks, Smithsonian Magazine, 31 Aug. 2021 Second, the myth is a form – first tablets, then parchment, then a codex, and later pixels – in need of translation and care. Erin Douglass, The Christian Science Monitor, 28 Sep. 2021 Skimming through pages, the foremost feature of the codex, remains impossible in digital books. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, 14 Sep. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'codex.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of codex

1661, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for codex

Latin — more at code

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Dictionary Entries Near codex

code word


codex rescriptus

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Statistics for codex

Last Updated

4 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Codex.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for codex


co·​dex | \ ˈkō-ˌdeks How to pronounce codex (audio) \
plural codices\ ˈkōd-​ə-​ˌsēz How to pronounce codex (audio) , ˈkäd-​ How to pronounce codex (audio) \

Medical Definition of codex

: an official or standard collection of drug formulas and descriptions a codex similar to the British Pharmaceutical Codex

More from Merriam-Webster on codex

Nglish: Translation of codex for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about codex


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