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

But earlier studies have also shown that many poor taxpayers don’t understand they are being audited or have trouble deciphering what the IRS is asking in its letters. Paul Kiel, ProPublica, "It’s Getting Worse: The IRS Now Audits Poor Americans at About the Same Rate as the Top 1%," 30 May 2019 Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been assigned to decipher the summit for South Korea and another bedrock ally, Japan. Brian Murphy, Washington Post, "South Korea struggles to digest strange new reality of Kim Jong Un bonding with White House," 13 June 2018 Anyone who has ever tried and failed to decipher a dense ingredient list on the back of a bottle tends to assume that, if it is meant to be put on your face, the product is likely safe. Ivana Rihter, Vogue, "Are Your Beauty Products Toxic? A New Senate Bill Aims to Tackle Unregulated Ingredients," 9 Mar. 2019 Mostly hidden on the inside of her right arm, the tiny piece is a word in cursive that was too small for most people to decipher. Evelyn Wang, Teen Vogue, "Kaia Gerber Got Her First Ever Teeny Tiny Tattoo," 12 Oct. 2018 The novel alternates chapters between Singh’s present-day struggle to decipher Gaitonde’s message and Gaitonde’s narration of his criminal career, and the series does a similar dance, moving with reasonable fluidity between its two modes. Mike Hale, New York Times, "Review: The Criminal Life in Mumbai in ‘Sacred Games’," 6 July 2018 Some travelers were detained at airports, while others were allowed to enter the U.S. Travelers and lawyers scrambled to decipher the policy, saying Customs and Border Protection officers interpreted the order differently at different locations. Bart Jansen, USA TODAY, "Will there be chaos at the airport? Not likely. A travel ban has been in place since December.," 26 June 2018 During breaks in the action, the infielders talked among themselves, trying to decipher Milwaukee’s thought process. Jared Diamond, WSJ, "The Brewers, Dodgers Take Lineup Shuffle to the Next Level," 18 Oct. 2018 For viewers, deciphering when a video crosses the line into marketing is not always easy. Mark Bergen, The Seattle Times, "Kidfluencers’ rampant YouTube marketing creates minefield for Google," 24 Mar. 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

14 Jun 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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