cryp·​ta·​rithm ˈkrip-tə-ˌri-t͟həm How to pronounce cryptarithm (audio)
: an arithmetic problem in which letters have been substituted for numbers and which is solved by finding all possible pairings of digits with letters that produce a numerically correct answer

Examples of cryptarithm in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Here is a cryptarithm (digit substitution) puzzle that may help (incidentally, all these words are acceptable in Scrabble). Quanta Magazine, 20 Apr. 2021

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Word History


crypt- + -arithm (as in logarithm), after French cryptarithmie, alluding to either such problems collectively or to the branch of mathematics dealing with them

Note: The word cryptarithm was apparently introduced by the Minsk-born Belgian mathematician Maurice Kraitchik (1882-1957) in Mathematical Recreations (New York, 1942), pp. 79-80. Kraitchik states that he has translated French cryptarithmie as "cryptarithmetic," but then refers to an arithmetical operation in which letters have been substituted for numbers as a "cryptarithm." The word cryptarithmie was allegedly introduced by the Belgian mathematician Simon Vatriquant (1892-1966), under the pseudonym "Minos," in the May, 1931, issue of Sphinx: Revue mensuelle des questions récréatives.

First Known Use

1943, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of cryptarithm was in 1943

Dictionary Entries Near cryptarithm

Cite this Entry

“Cryptarithm.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Sep. 2023.

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