de·​ci·​pher | \ dē-ˈsī-fər How to pronounce decipher (audio) \
deciphered; deciphering; deciphers

Definition of decipher

transitive verb

1 : decode sense 1a decipher a secret message
2 obsolete : depict with her majesty's name deciphered in gold letters— Jonathan Swift
3a : to make out the meaning of despite indistinctness or obscurity trying to decipher her handwriting
b : to interpret the meaning of decipher the poem

Other Words from decipher

decipherable \ dē-​ˈsī-​f(ə-​)rə-​bəl How to pronounce decipher (audio) \ adjective
decipherer \ dē-​ˈsī-​fər-​ər How to pronounce decipher (audio) \ noun
decipherment \ dē-​ˈsī-​fər-​mənt How to pronounce decipher (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for decipher



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Examples of decipher in a Sentence

I couldn't decipher his sloppy handwriting. we deciphered the hidden message to find out when we were supposed to meet
Recent Examples on the Web The rest of the women — who have been craning their necks from the living room trying to decipher the pair's body language — watch with anticipation. Kristen Baldwin,, 25 Jan. 2022 Viewers can scan a special QR code with their phone that will lead to an interactive key to help decipher the meanings of the symbols. Steven Tonthat, oregonlive, 24 Dec. 2021 The device can decipher handwriting in thirty-three languages, according to the manufacturer’s Web site—albeit only by sending it to a secure cloud server. Julian Lucas, The New Yorker, 13 Dec. 2021 Many followers believe Musk likes to hide easter eggs in his Twitter feed, sending out secret messages only the most devoted will decipher. Christiaan Hetzner, Fortune, 10 Dec. 2021 The difficulties of attempting to decipher the hieroglyphs, even with the help of the Rosetta stone, were legion. David Conrads, The Christian Science Monitor, 25 Oct. 2021 Hoover has the tools to decipher any team with an offense that averages 38.7 points a game and a defense that allows 12 points a game. Dennis Victory, al, 19 Oct. 2021 The notes, executed in Noonan’s irredeemable ciotóg scrawl, were the usual hassle to decipher, their transcription to the computer an activity of an order of tedium that Noonan nonetheless found strangely assuaging. Colin Barrett, The New Yorker, 6 Dec. 2021 The reason is not hard to decipher; AI runs on data and data is derived from real life scenarios. Annie Brown, Forbes, 14 Nov. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'decipher.' 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 decipher

1545, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for decipher

Time Traveler

The first known use of decipher was in 1545

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Dictionary Entries Near decipher



deciphering alphabet

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Statistics for decipher

Last Updated

29 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Decipher.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for decipher



English Language Learners Definition of decipher

: to find the meaning of (something that is difficult to read or understand)


de·​ci·​pher | \ dē-ˈsī-fər How to pronounce decipher (audio) \
deciphered; deciphering

Kids Definition of decipher

1 : to translate from secret or mysterious writing : decode
2 : to make out the meaning of something not clear I can't decipher her sloppy handwriting.

More from Merriam-Webster on decipher

Nglish: Translation of decipher for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of decipher for Arabic Speakers


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