The term “codex” comes from the Latin word “codex,” which originally meant “book” or “manuscript.” The Latin “codex” is derived from “caudex,” meaning “tree trunk” or “block of wood,” which was used metaphorically to refer to a book or collection of laws.

1. Proto-Indo-European (PIE)

The PIE root “keu-” or “keud-” means “to cover” or “to conceal.”

2. Latin

From the PIE root, the Latin word “caudex” (later “codex”) developed. Initially, “caudex” referred to a tree trunk or block of wood, but it evolved to mean “book” or “manuscript” as wooden tablets were used for writing before the use of papyrus or parchment.

3. Ancient Rome (c. 3rd century BCE to 5th century CE)

The term “codex” was used to describe bound manuscripts made from wooden tablets coated with wax or, later, parchment or papyrus sheets. These manuscripts were a precursor to modern books and were often used to compile legal statutes, religious texts, and scholarly works.

4. Medieval Latin (c. 5th to 15th century CE)

In Medieval Latin, “codex” continued to refer to manuscripts or bound volumes, particularly those containing important texts, such as legal codes, biblical scriptures, and classical works.

5. Modern English (from 15th century CE to present)

The term “codex” was adopted into Modern English, retaining its meaning of an ancient manuscript in book form. It is often used to refer to historical texts, such as the Codex Sinaiticus (one of the earliest complete manuscripts of the Christian Bible) or the Codex Alimentarius (a collection of internationally recognized standards for food safety).

The word “codex” reflects the evolution of written communication from wooden tablets to bound manuscripts, symbolizing the transition from ancient to modern methods of preserving and disseminating information.