cryp·​tog·​ra·​phy | \krip-ˈtä-grə-fē \

Definition of cryptography 

1 : secret writing

2 : the enciphering and deciphering of messages in secret code or cipher also : the computerized encoding and decoding of information

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Did You Know?

For a word having to do with secrets, "cryptography" has a surprisingly transparent etymology. The word traces back to the Greek roots kryptos, meaning "hidden," and graphein, meaning "to write." "Kryptos" - which in turn traces to the Greek verb kryptein, meaning "to hide" - is a root shared by several English words, including "crypt," "cryptic," and "encrypt." "Krypton," the name of a colorless gaseous element used especially in some fluorescent lamps and photography flashes, also comes from "kryptos." The name was chosen because the gas is rare and hard to find.

Examples of cryptography in a Sentence

Companies often use cryptography to protect private information.

Recent Examples on the Web

For example, the AES cryptography performance is far higher on the XPS 13 than the MacBook Air. Gordon Mah Ung, PCWorld, "Here's how much slower (and faster?) Apple's new MacBook Air is than Dell's XPS 13," 2 Nov. 2018 Uber’s differential privacy software doesn’t use a blockchain, a kind of digital records system guarded by cryptography that can limit and log who makes changes or additions. Tom Simonite, WIRED, "How a Startup Is Using the Blockchain to Protect Your Privacy," 11 July 2018 Matt Green, a cryptography expert and assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University, told me. Derek Hawkins, Washington Post, "The Cybersecurity 202: Security community has its own encryption debate after discovery of new flaw," 15 May 2018 First, here are the main objections to Clear, as outlined in a blog post published Thursday by Matt Green, a Johns Hopkins professor specializing in cryptography and security. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Ray Ozzie’s plan for unlocking encrypted phones gets a chilly reception," 26 Apr. 2018 The response by the developers of cryptography software is to implement their algorithms in such a way as to defend against these data leaks. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Hyperthreading under scrutiny with new TLBleed crypto key leak," 25 June 2018 Without having the cryptography keys of the people talking, all the system administrators would see was meaningless gobbledegook. Quinn Norton, The Atlantic, "Email Is Dangerous," 21 May 2018 Inspired by the January disclosure of the bugs, security researchers are digging into chip attacks and uncovering even more flaws, said Paul Kocher, an independent cryptography expert who with others discovered Spectre. Robert Mcmillan, WSJ, "New Intel Chip Flaws Found—And They Likely Won’t Be the Last," 22 May 2018 The services could benefit everyday applications such as cryptography and lotteries—and also research. Sophia Chen, Science | AAAS, "Why are countries creating public random number generators?," 28 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cryptography.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of cryptography

1646, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for cryptography

borrowed from New Latin cryptographia, from crypto- crypto- + -graphia -graphy

Note: New Latin cryptographia was perhaps first used by the Limburg-born philologist Erycius Puteanus (Eric de Put, Eric van den Putte, 1574-1646) in "Cryptographia epistolica, sive de clandestina scriptione," an addendum to his Epistolarum reliquiae centuria V (Leuven/Louvain, 1612). An apparently more widely circulated work using the word was Cryptomenytices et cryptographiae libri IX (Lüneburg, 1624) by Gustavus Selenus, pseudonym of Augustus the Younger, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg (1579-1666).

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Last Updated

18 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for cryptography

The first known use of cryptography was in 1646

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English Language Learners Definition of cryptography

: the process of writing or reading secret messages or codes

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More from Merriam-Webster on cryptography

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with cryptography

Nglish: Translation of cryptography for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about cryptography

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