code

1 of 2

noun

plural codes
1
: a systematic statement of a body of law
especially : one given statutory force
2
: a system of principles or rules
moral code
3
a
: a system of signals or symbols for communication
b
: a system of symbols (such as letters or numbers) used to represent assigned and often secret meanings
c
: coded language : a word or phrase chosen in place of another word or phrase in order to communicate an attitude or meaning without stating it explicitly
The strategy also appealed to blue-collar workers in the Northeast and Northwest who were opposed to "forced bussing." This was expressed in code as favoring "law and order" and opposing "crime in the streets."Elizabeth Drew
usually used with for
I hear the word "development" a lot in public speech; politicians and activists use it as code for a lot of things—jobs, health care, a change in leadership.Sallie Tisdale
This quarter-century of Republican momentum was reversed finally by Bill Clinton, who called himself a "New Democrat," code for "not a liberal."Joshua Muravchik
4
5
: instructions for a computer (as within a piece of software)
writing code for a new app
codeless adjective

code

2 of 2

verb

coded; coding

transitive verb

: to put in or into the form or symbols of a code

intransitive verb

1
: to specify the genetic code
a gene that codes for a protein
2
: to create or edit computer code
She got a job coding for Google.
codable adjective
coder noun

Examples of code in a Sentence

Noun Everyone in the organization has to follow its code of ethics. The army has a strict code of conduct. The enemy was unable to break the army's secret code. The message was sent in code. Every item in the store has a product code. Enter your security code to access the computer. Each employee is given a code number. He was hired to write programming code. Verb The general sent a coded message. Each product has been coded.
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
The report recommended other measures including building code enforcement, flood-control infrastructure, and discouraging development in catastrophe-prone areas. Alex Zank, Fortune, 30 Mar. 2024 In a hint of a culture war, some suggested the solar panels were the kind of politically correct gesture typical of a progressive institution like King’s College, whose graduates include the economist John Maynard Keynes, the World War II code breaker Alan Turing and the novelist Zadie Smith. Mark Landler, New York Times, 30 Mar. 2024 While some filers may focus on the federal half of the assignment, there are credits to be found in state tax codes as well. James Powel, USA TODAY, 30 Mar. 2024 Hate speech policies Shawnee Mission students say one of the first steps the district can take is to establish a more serious offense in the student code of conduct for hate speech. Sarah Ritter, Kansas City Star, 30 Mar. 2024 Customers download its app on the app store, upload their payment information to get a QR code and then scan it at the entry gate. Gary Stern, Forbes, 29 Mar. 2024 Commissioner Joe Carollo Sued for misuse of public office In June, a jury ordered Commissioner Joe Carollo to pay $63.5 million to two Little Havana businessmen for weaponizing city resources – from police to code enforcement – to carry out a personal vendetta. Susan Merriam, Miami Herald, 28 Mar. 2024 While medical businesses had an advantage in the transition to retail, the state reserved the first round of new recreational licenses for people from Zip codes that were disproportionately harmed by the war on drugs. Scott Clement, Washington Post, 21 Mar. 2024 Restricting super apps Apple forces app developers to write code specifically for its operating system, restricting developers from coding using universal languages that could offer a single app experience across any device. David Goldman, CNN, 21 Mar. 2024
Verb
Seventeen teams will advance to the eighth annual all-state coding competition at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville on April 20, the Arkansas Department of Education has announced. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, arkansasonline.com, 29 Mar. 2024 On Monday, Wired reported that the company showed data proving its AI model’s reading comprehension, answers to general knowledge questions, and coding is superior to other open-source models that can be downloaded from Hugging Face and modified by users. Charlie Fink, Forbes, 28 Mar. 2024 The question of the day was whether the difference in survival rates of men and women in horror slasher films was due to chance; the students analyzed data files and used coding to find the answer. Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times, 27 Mar. 2024 Moore noted that the bridge was up to code at the time of the collapse. Melissa Alonso, CNN, 26 Mar. 2024 Learning Resources Coding Critters Ranger & Zip This STEM toy for ages 4 and up encourages kids to learn how to code (without screens). Maya Polton, Parents, 24 Mar. 2024 Hood Code is bringing free coding classes to students who live in New York City’s public housing. Josh Feldman, NBC News, 10 Mar. 2024 Russell then coded two hours later at 10:50 p.m. and died that night — allegedly 16 hours into Sampson’s work day. Charna Flam, Peoplemag, 13 Mar. 2024 Michael Calore: Some artificially intelligent agent that has been coded with biases apparently. Michael Calore Lauren Goode, WIRED, 7 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'code.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin caudex, codex trunk of a tree, document formed originally from wooden tablets

First Known Use

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1815, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of code was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near code

Cite this Entry

“Code.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/code. Accessed 15 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

code

1 of 2 noun
1
: a collection of laws arranged in some orderly way
criminal code
2
: a system of principles or rules
moral code
3
a
: a system of signals for communicating
b
: a system of symbols (as letters or numbers) used to represent assigned and often secret meanings
4
5
: a set of instructions for a computer

code

2 of 2 verb
coded; coding
: to put into the form or symbols of a code
coder noun

Medical Definition

code

1 of 2 noun

code

2 of 2 verb
coded; coding

transitive verb

: to specify the genetic code for
an amino acid coded by a nucleotide sequence

intransitive verb

1
: to specify the genetic code
the DNA sequence of the gene that codes for that proteinGina B. Kolata
2
: to experience cardiac arrest or respiratory failure
They were taking her up to the operating room and she coded in the hallway. The resuscitation effort was heroic.Perri Klass, Discover

Legal Definition

code

noun
1
: a systematic compilation or revision of law or legal principles that is arranged especially by subject: as
a
: one that contains the law of a specific jurisdiction or topic promulgated by legislative authority
U.S. Code
Code of Massachusetts Regulations
building code
compare case law, digest, statute
b
: one that serves as a model for legislation but is not itself a law
Model Penal Code
2
: a set of rules or regulations that is promulgated by a body (as a professional organization) and that regulates its industrial or professional practices
ABA Code of Professional Responsibility
Etymology

Noun

Old French, from Medieval Latin codex, from Latin caudex codex tree trunk, set of wood writing tablets, book

More from Merriam-Webster on code

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!