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

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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 That runner would decipher the catcher's sign and signal to the batter from second base, the investigation found. Steve Almasy, CNN, "Red Sox manager Alex Cora apologizes for his role in Astros' cheating scandal," 10 Nov. 2020 That means if Europa’s surface does glow, future missions could study the light from the moon’s nighttime side to help decipher its complex chemistry. Maya Wei-haas, National Geographic, "One of Jupiter's icy moons may glow in the dark," 9 Nov. 2020 That's three losses in the last four league games for Chelsea, which has dropped to sixth place and whose identity — and best lineup — is increasingly hard to decipher. Steve Douglas, ajc, "Youngsters deliver for Arsenal as scrutiny shifts to Lampard," 26 Dec. 2020 To decipher how heat helps weeds fend off herbicides, Stahlman teamed up with KSU colleagues Mithila Jugulam, a weed physiologist, and Junjun Ou, a research assistant. Natasha Gilbert, Wired, "Will Rising Temperatures Make Superweeds Even Stronger?," 19 Dec. 2020 The first was clearly an A, but the second initial was worn and difficult to decipher. oregonlive, "We returned a lost class ring found 50 years ago in a Corvair," 17 Dec. 2020 Both prosecutors and defense attorneys agree the cases are hard to prove: The person who overdosed is dead, so prosecutors are left to piece together other evidence, like cell phone data, which can be difficult to decipher. Grace Toohey,, "Seminole leads in prosecuting overdose deaths as murder. Some fear tactic will backfire," 24 Nov. 2020 And Sims’ play has been just as difficult to decipher. Nick Moyle,, "Texas hopes F Jericho Sims will soar in his senior season," 13 Nov. 2020 Dominique Jardy, curator at the Linge museum, tells CNN’s Jack Guy that the note was written in looping handwriting that is difficult to decipher. Nora Mcgreevy, Smithsonian Magazine, "A Carrier Pigeon’s Military Message Was Delivered a Century Too Late," 13 Nov. 2020

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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Statistics for decipher

Last Updated

17 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Decipher.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for decipher


How to pronounce decipher (audio)

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.

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