decipher

verb
de·​ci·​pher | \ dē-ˈsī-fər \
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 \ -​f(ə-​)rə-​bəl \ adjective
decipherer \ -​fər-​ər \ noun
decipherment \ -​fər-​mənt \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for decipher

Synonyms

break, crack, decode, decrypt

Antonyms

cipher, code, encipher, encode, encrypt

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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

Earlier this year, secret 500-year-old letters sent by King Ferdinand II of Aragon to one of his military commanders were finally deciphered by experts in Spain. James Rogers, Fox News, "Ancient papyrus mystery solved," 16 July 2018 Other organisms’ genomes had been deciphered in the intervening period but the projects doing so had a piecemeal feel to them. The Economist, "GenomicsSequencing the world," 23 Jan. 2018 For all the talk about the science, which will take years to gather and decades to fully decipher, the engineering feat of what NASA calls entry, descent, and landing (or EDL) on Mars takes a bulk of the mission’s attention. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "How a Small CubeSat Became the Unlikely Hero of the InSight Landing," 29 Nov. 2018 Now, Californians will no longer have to decipher a slew of tiny symbols to make sure their beauty routine hasn't come at animals' expense. Rachel Nussbaum, Glamour, "California Just Became the First State to Ban Beauty Products Tested on Animals," 4 Sep. 2018 Scharg helped decipher the language of the Lennox class settlement for readers of my October column. Cathy Cunningham, chicagotribune.com, "Owner of defective Lennox AC unit asks: Can I opt out of class action and personally sue dealer who sold me unit?," 21 June 2018 Many will want to apply those criteria to a new theory, from a family in Canada, who claim to have deciphered the text. Jane Bracher, CNN, "The Voynich manuscript: Will this medieval mystery ever be solved?," 15 June 2018 The MarCO pair will then decipher all that data and send the information back to Earth. Loren Grush, The Verge, "Watch NASA engineers track the harrowing landing of a spacecraft on Mars today," 26 Nov. 2018 Using the morse code disk located on the back of the book, the reader can try to decipher the hidden message that was left behind. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "Is This The Name of The First Episode of “Stranger Things” In Season 3?!," 6 Nov. 2018

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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Statistics for decipher

Last Updated

11 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for decipher

The first known use of decipher was in 1545

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More Definitions for decipher

decipher

verb

English Language Learners Definition of decipher

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

decipher

verb
de·​ci·​pher | \ dē-ˈsī-fər \
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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More from Merriam-Webster on decipher

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with decipher

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for decipher

Spanish Central: Translation of decipher

Nglish: Translation of decipher for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of decipher for Arabic Speakers

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