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 decipherable (audio) \ adjective
decipherer \ dē-​ˈsī-​fər-​ər How to pronounce decipherer (audio) \ noun
decipherment \ dē-​ˈsī-​fər-​mənt How to pronounce decipherment (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 Lease pull-ahead programs from dealerships are a little harder to decipher. Washington Post, "Edmunds: What are your options at the end of a car lease?," 25 Dec. 2019 Lease pull-ahead programs from dealerships are a little harder to decipher. CBS News, "Car lease ending? You have options — and could even make money," 25 Dec. 2019 At another, investigators were reduced to watching hours of traffic-cam footage, trying to decipher the robbers’ movements based solely on headlights reflecting off the back of nearby buildings. Geoff Manaugh, The Atlantic, "The Rise and Fall of an All-Star Crew of Jewel Thieves," 17 Dec. 2019 Payne hit the weight room more, worked extensively with his receivers, visited the film room to sharpen his skills of deciphering defenses to win the job. Pomerado News, "Bronco quarterback is a student of the game," 2 Oct. 2019 The cozy space is imbued with Québécois flair, from the handwritten French menu (deciphered by amiable waiters for non-Francophones like myself) to the kitchen’s unrestrained use of butter. Aliza Abarbanel, Bon Appétit, "If I Lived in Toronto, Every Dinner Date Would Be at Dreyfus," 9 Dec. 2019 Here, psych experts decipher the reasons behind the most puzzling human behavior mysteries. Melissa Locker,, "This 21-Year-Old Student Is Accused of Persuading Her Boyfriend to Kill Himself—but Why Would Someone Do That?," 5 Dec. 2019 Brent was deciphering a Rubik’s Cube beside him, but pretended not to hear his grandparents arguing or his cousin crying. Tiphanie Yanique, The New Yorker, "God’s Caravan," 28 Oct. 2019 The Titans disguised their Cover 2 scheme by lining up in a Cover 1 look leading Brissett to either misdiagnose the defense or make a poor decision despite deciphering the Titans’ coverage. Jim Ayello, Indianapolis Star, "Reich makes no excuses for INTs, but 'can’t forget' good things Jacoby Brissett did Sunday," 2 Dec. 2019

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

11 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Decipher.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 17 January 2020.

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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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Comments on decipher

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a plan in which a last survivor takes all

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