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 \ -​f(ə-​)rə-​bəl How to pronounce decipherable (audio) \ adjective
decipherer \ -​fər-​ər How to pronounce decipherer (audio) \ noun
decipherment \ -​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

The collection serves as a kind of Rosetta Stone to deciphering his influences and motivations. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Ismail Kadare: The Conscience of His People," 15 June 2018 Beyond the dreamlike destination aspect of the annual show, Métiers d’Art is a valuable exercise in deciphering and perpetuating workmanship as a language. Amy Verner, Vogue, "Vogue Got an Exclusive Tour of Chanel’s Ateliers While Tonight’s Métiers d’Art Collection Was Being Made," 5 Dec. 2018 The boys can’t really be faulted for not being able to decipher the words of the song—because the movement, and its anthem, is meant to be pan-tribal, to inspire unity among Native nations, most renditions of the song do not translate it into words. Rebecca Bengal, Vogue, "The Power of Nathan Phillips’s Song," 21 Jan. 2019 But by employing advanced medical-grade X-ray techniques, researchers at the University of Cardiff were able to decipher the obscured message, once thought completely lost to history. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "Researchers Used X-Rays to Read This 400-Year-Old Burnt Up Scroll," 4 Oct. 2018 After a specialist papyrus restorer separated the sheets, the researchers were able to decipher its contents. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Researchers Unlock Secrets of Basel Papyrus," 13 July 2018 Trump’s brazen comment urging a foreign power to hack his opponent has always been difficult to decipher. Dylan Scott, Vox, "July 27, 2016: Trump asked Russia to find Hillary’s emails. They acted within hours.," 13 July 2018 And throughout those 500 years, no one could decipher it. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "After 500 years, a UV lamp solves the mystery of the Basel Papyrus," 19 July 2018 Your health care provider may soon ask you that question as part of one of the largest efforts in American history to decipher how people’s genes, lifestyle and environment affect their well-being. Gary Robbins, sandiegouniontribune.com, "NIH begins enrolling volunteers in historic study of how and why people get sick," 5 May 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

22 Mar 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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