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 The pandemic has live music industry leaders trying to decipher what post-coronavirus concert experiences will even be like. Matt Wake |, al, "Will coronavirus impact Huntsville’s amphitheater plans?," 23 Apr. 2020 In a way, trying to decipher the proof first required learning an entirely new system and notation. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "This Guy Says He Solved the Most Controversial Open Problem in Math," 6 Apr. 2020 And those types of words can come in handy when trying to decipher academic texts, Slosser says. Corbett Smith, Dallas News, "Dedication in any language: DISD teacher goes the extra mile to help students learn English," 2 Apr. 2020 Chidong Zhang, a climate research division leader at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, spends most of his time trying to decipher the quirky behavior of the MJO in the Maritime Continent. John Fialka, Scientific American, "A Climate Fluctuation That Could Improve Forecasts Remains a Mystery," 31 Mar. 2020 Yet some investors also are trying to decipher what the Super Tuesday outcomes could mean for markets, particularly as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders appears to be moving closer to securing the nomination. Steven Russolillo, WSJ, "Prediction Markets Are Far From a Sure Bet Ahead of Super Tuesday," 2 Mar. 2020 But cryptographers say now is the time to prepare, especially because anybody could record sensitive communications now and decipher them later. Adrian Cho, Science | AAAS, "Cryptographers scramble to protect the internet from hackers with quantum computers," 21 Aug. 2019 Each piece has the state’s name and a few drawings representing it, like the Golden Gate bridge in California and the Gateway Arch in Missouri, for an easier time deciphering which state is which. Madison Flager, Condé Nast Traveler, "9 Best Travel Puzzles, Whether You're Dreaming of Cinque Terre or Joshua Tree," 3 Apr. 2020 Some of the most popular ballot-marking machines, made by industry leaders Election Systems & Software and Dominion Voting Systems, register votes in bar codes that the human eye cannot decipher. CBS News, "Reliability of expensive new voting machines called into question," 24 Feb. 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

16 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Decipher.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 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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