decipher

verb
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

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

Undine and her mother are reliant on their masseuse and manicurist, Mrs. Heeny, to decipher the codes and hierarchies of aristocratic New York. Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker, "What Edith Wharton Knew, a Century Ago, About Women and Fame in America," 10 Sep. 2019 All of those movements and determinations are what comes pre-snap, when Herbert will be having to decipher looks as well. oregonlive.com, "Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele’s scheme will test mettle of Oregon’s Jake Hanson, Justin Herbert," 28 Aug. 2019 This is one of the most perplexing issues that people face when moving to an unfamiliar city and trying to decipher the real estate market. Michelle Sandlin, Houston Chronicle, "On the Move: Understand real estate market data when moving to Houston," 31 Aug. 2019 Given the mysteries of brain chemistry and its confluence with life experience, could science really decipher what drives an individual to want to die? Jennifer Couzin-frankel, Science | AAAS, "My younger sister died by suicide. Can science succeed in helping others?," 20 Aug. 2019 Her team has had a difficult time deciphering the details of the response to the DRC’s current Ebola outbreak. Jon Cohen, Science | AAAS, "Congo arrests former health minister for alleged misuse of Ebola funds," 16 Sep. 2019 Clarifying the relationships between these species, confidently characterising their morphology, and deciphering the complex and intricate story about hominin evolution is not a simple task. Hester Hanegraef, Quartz Africa, "The skull of humanity’s oldest known ancestor is changing our understanding of evolution," 7 Sep. 2019 On the field, the onus of deciphering Auburn’s defense and making the pre-snap calls and adjustments will fall on Oregon center Jake Hanson and quarterback Justin Herbert. oregonlive.com, "Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele’s scheme will test mettle of Oregon’s Jake Hanson, Justin Herbert," 28 Aug. 2019 The State Archives of North Carolina is getting $140,000 toward a project designed to expand an online catalog that helps historians and other citizens know names and places within hard-to-decipher records. USA TODAY, "Charlottesville remembered, drive-thru ban, ketchup karma: News from around our 50 states," 13 Aug. 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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Statistics for decipher

Last Updated

18 Oct 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 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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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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