Codify Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Codify, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Codify?

v. The labeling and arrangement of a system of laws.

History and Meaning of Codify

Codify is a verb that simply means to organize laws or rules into a systematic format. This word originated from the Latin word "codex," which referred to a book of rules or laws. The process of codification makes laws more accessible and understandable to the general public, making legal documents more clear and easy to read. 

Examples of Codify

  1. The U.S. Constitution is a prime example of the codifying of laws. It took a set of complex governmental principles and organized them into a written document.
  2. Another example would be the California Civil Code, which codifies all the laws of that state concerning personal property, contracts, and other issues.
  3. Yet another example is the Napoleonic Code, a civil law code enacted in France in 1804 that codified private law to replace the old patchwork of feudal laws.

Legal Terms Similar to Codify

  1. Decodify - the reverse process of codification, where existing codified laws are broken down or simplified.
  2. De-codification - the process of removing codes or categories from a specific law, making the law less stringent or easier to apply.
  3. Canonical - a body of codified law associated with religious or spiritual matters, particularly in the Christian church.