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 codicil (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for codicil



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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 But there was a secret codicil: Kennedy agreed to withdraw Jupiter missiles from Turkey that could reach Moscow as quickly as Soviet missiles in Cuba could reach Washington. Washington Post, 30 Apr. 2021 Revoking a clause in a will and substituting a new clause is generally done by codicil. Donna Engle,, 25 Apr. 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, 8 Sep. 2020 But due to an obscure NCAA codicil, teams can keep their camp schedule start date (Aug. 7) based on the date of their original season opener. Eric Hansen, The Indianapolis Star, 31 July 2020 Esper said, revealing for the first time the existence of the codicils to the agreement. Jamie Mcintyre, Washington Examiner, 6 Mar. 2020 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, 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, 4 Feb. 2018 Racism wasn't out front; people regulated it through the codicils on their homes. Ash Carter, Town & Country, 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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The first known use of codicil was in the 15th century

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Cite this Entry

“Codicil.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for codicil



English Language Learners Definition of codicil

: 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

Britannica English: Translation of codicil for Arabic Speakers


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