cod·​i·​cil | \ ˈkä-də-səl How to pronounce codicil (audio) , -ˌsil\

Definition of codicil

1 : a legal instrument made to modify an earlier will

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Other Words from codicil

codicillary \ ˌkä-​də-​ˈsi-​lə-​rē How to pronounce codicillary (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for codicil


addendum, afterword, appendix, excursus, supplement


foreword, introduction, preface, prologue (also prolog)

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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

When two American politicians are assassinated by the Russian mafia, the sitting U.S. president whips out a supersecret codicil to the U.S. Constitution authorizing him to ignore federal law in an emergency. Bruce Desilva, Dallas News, "'The Russian' by Ben Coes is a preposterous thriller," 30 July 2019 After that, Bell Pottinger tried to find middle ground by signing a new contract with the Guptas, this time with a codicil literally called an anti-embarrassment clause. David Segal, New York Times, "How Bell Pottinger, P.R. Firm for Despots and Rogues, Met Its End in South Africa," 4 Feb. 2018 Racism wasn't out front; people regulated it through the codicils on their homes. Ash Carter, Town & Country, "How Oak Bluffs Became a Summer Haven for the African-American Elite," 29 June 2016

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

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First Known Use of codicil

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for codicil

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

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Statistics for codicil

Last Updated

5 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for codicil

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

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English Language Learners Definition of codicil

law : a document that adds or changes something in a will


cod·​i·​cil | \ ˈkä-də-səl, -ˌsil How to pronounce codicil (audio) \

Legal Definition of codicil

: a formally executed document made after a will that adds to, subtracts from, or changes the will — see also republish

History and Etymology for codicil

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

More from Merriam-Webster on codicil

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Britannica English: Translation of codicil for Arabic Speakers

Comments on codicil

What made you want to look up codicil? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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