What do you call an official collection of passages, laws, books, etc.?

I'm thinking of a very official-sounding word, like "The ___crux" "The Index" or "The Axiom" or something sounding like that... I know I learned about it in gradeschool, but I can't quite recall it.

  • 2
    What kind of collection, maintained by who, and for what purpose? How about canon, bible, scripture, torah, rulebook? Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 21:38
  • @FumbleFingers I'm not entirely sure. It's a particular word, and it carries an air of high significance. It may or may not be a fictional thing.
    – Ky -
    Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 21:40
  • 1
    @ Supuhstar: I'm sure there will be more words not yet proposed. I'm guessing you want something akin to annals, chronicles (the "official" records of important events), that focusses on laws rather than events. The problem with canon being the religious associations. Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 22:15
  • @FumbleFingers exactly
    – Ky -
    Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 22:44
  • 1
    @Supuhstar: Unless codex does it for you too, you're on your own now! :) (but statutes has a certain je ne sais quoi) Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 22:46

7 Answers 7


Perhaps you're thinking of codex

(obsolete) a code, or body of laws [Collins]

As noted, its not much in use today.

There are also several compendia of law in specific fields called restatements

(law) Any of several treatises published by the American Law Institute in which a group of legal scholars within a field of law set forth the principles of that field of law based on legal precedents [Wiktionary]

These include, for example Restatement of the Law Second, Torts and Restatement Second, Contracts. These are each the second version of this compilation in these fields.

These are not simply compilations of statutes in these fields, since much of US law is not codified, but is based on judicial decisions. Rather, they are summaries of the general legal principles across most jurisdictions within the US, but there is significant variation by region and state.

There is also a system of collecting all of the significant judicial decisions for a given locale in a set of volumes called reporters [Glossary of Legal Terms].

Obviously, this is limited to the US and many other systems exist in other jurisdictions.

  • I don't know if this is exactly what OP has in mind, because he hasn't been very clear. But it's the very word I couldn't think of myself a minute ago. I've just checked OED, which also says this particular sense is "obsolete". Obsolete or not, it's probably the only word with the precise meaning I had in mind, so +1! Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 22:21
  • That also sounds pretty good! Voting up, gonna wait to see if any more answers come in but I might just accept this!
    – Ky -
    Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 22:47
  • 1
    Is there any reference showing that codex was definitely used for a collection that did not form a single treatise?
    – Keith
    Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 3:59
  • I'm with Keith here; codex is singular and implies that everything's been written up into a single book/scroll.
    – Ben
    Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 7:50
  • 1
    possibly just "code" is what he is after. The Glynfarian Code, or whatever.
    – Fattie
    Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 10:55

Consider corpus.

a complete or comprehensive collection, as of laws or writings of a specified type: the corpus of civil law

Source: Webster's New World College Dictionary Copyright © 2010

For example, Wikipedia lists below corpora:

  • Hippocratic Corpus, the lectures and writings of Hippocrates

  • Corpus Inscriptionum Etruscarum, an index of Etruscan texts

  • Corpus Reformatorum, a collection of Reformation writings

  • An abbreviation for the Corpus Juris Civilis, a collection of four books on law by Justinian I

  • Corpus Hermeticum, a collection of Egyptian-Greek Wisdom texts from the second century

  • Corpus Areopagiticum, a collection of theologic and phlisophic texts attributed to a "Dionysius"

  • Corpus Aristotelicum, a collection of texts by the philosopher Aristotle

  • Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium, a collection of eastern Christian texts with over 600 volumes


Canon carries a strong connotation of officialdom (hence, canonical).


canon (plural canons)

  1. A group of literary works that are generally accepted as representing a field.

    "the durable canon of American short fiction" — William Styron

from Wiktionary

  • 1
    perhaps add the dictionary definition.
    – dwjohnston
    Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 22:36
  • More precisely, a canon is a selection of officially approved works (for some purpose) out of a greater number of comparable works. Perhaps best known are the various Christian biblical canons, which do not quite agree with each other in their choices.
    – user86291
    Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 23:01
  • @dwjohnston I took the liberty of adding the one I think phenry meant
    – Ky -
    Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 1:02

An official collection of laws is a "code", as in "Revised Code of Washington" (RCW), "United States Code" (USC), or "International Residential Code" (IRC).

One meaning of "library" is a collection of books.

  • Is there another one for the collection of codes that makes up all laws enforced in the United States, be they local, state, or federal?
    – Ky -
    Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 1:02
  • cf. the Code of Hammurabi
    – Ben
    Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 7:48

A pretty general word can be "digest". But I don't know if it can apply to your case (it does not seem (to me) very "official-sounding"): we should see the context. Google reports one definition: "a compilation or summary of material or information."

Other similar words might be: body, compendium.

  • 1
    Digest is surely only a portion of the relevant documents, by definition. But compilation itself sounds good. Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 22:33

This doesn't answer the question in English, but in German the word is "Verzeichnis" - as in, the "Ryom Verzeichnis" - the works of composer Antonio Vivaldi, as collected by Peter Ryom circa 1974.

Catalogue would work as well, in a more modern sense.


Through some thesaurus surfing I think I found it:


I know this only refers to language, and is not a collection of books, but it does seem to be the word that was on the tip of my tongue. Hopefully someone can submit an answer that carries the same power and has a much closer definition to the one in my question.

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