cod·​i·​cil ˈkä-də-səl How to pronounce codicil (audio)
: a legal instrument made to modify an earlier will
codicillary adjective

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A codicil is literally a "little codex," a little bit of writing on a small piece of writing material, used to add to or change something about a larger piece of writing. A codicil to a will can change the terms of the original will completely, so it generally requires witnesses just like the will itself, though in some states a handwritten codicil may not. In mystery novels, such changes have been known to cause murders; in real life, codicils aren't usually quite that exciting.

Examples of codicil in a Sentence

a codicil to the treaty was necessary to clarify certain provisos that had proved to be ambiguous
Recent Examples on the Web The 2016 codicil had a startling effect. Dallas News, 22 Jan. 2023 Sign a codicil or a new will with all the required formalities. Dallas News, 18 Sep. 2022 Besides a codicil in Ray Davis’ will, the price of signing Corey Seager and Marcus Semien was a second- and third-round choice, and despite that penalty the Rangers still finagled a first-round value in the fourth. Dallas News, 20 July 2022 The codicil — which is to be found in the same reality that gave rise to the concept of a casual restaurant — is not to disturb other diners. Washington Post, 17 Nov. 2021 In 1990 Donald secretly enlisted a lawyer to draft a codicil to the will of his father, Fred Sr. Anne Diebel, The New York Review of Books, 24 Sep. 2020

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'codicil.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English codicill, from Anglo-French *codicille, from Latin codicillus, diminutive of codic-, codex

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of codicil was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near codicil

Cite this Entry

“Codicil.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2024.

Legal Definition


cod·​i·​cil ˈkä-də-səl, -ˌsil How to pronounce codicil (audio)
: a formally executed document made after a will that adds to, subtracts from, or changes the will see also republish

Latin codicillus, literally, writing tablet, diminutive of codic-, codex book see code

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