de·​code | \ (ˌ)dē-ˈkōd How to pronounce decode (audio) \
decoded; decoding; decodes

Definition of decode

transitive verb

1a : to convert (something, such as a coded message) into intelligible form
b : to recognize and interpret (an electronic signal)
b : to discover the underlying meaning of decode the play's imagery

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Synonyms & Antonyms for decode



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Did You Know?

To decode is to take out of code and put into understandable language. (Its opposite is encode, "to put into coded form".) But dreams may sometimes also be decoded; psychologists often try to decode the images of their patients' dreams so as to understand the emotions behind them. And readers must often decode what a novel or story or poem is telling them, which may require two or three readings. Decipher is often a synonym, though we now use it when talking about reading difficult handwriting.

Examples of decode in a Sentence

Readers can easily decode the novel's imagery. I'm trying to decode the expression on her face. The box decodes the digital signal for your CD player.
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Recent Examples on the Web The algorithm then quickly identifies common patterns to decode the messages between catchers and pitchers. Popular Science, "The best way to steal signs in baseball," 28 Jan. 2020 The investigation found that the Astros used the video feed from a center field camera to see and decode the opposing catcher’s signs. Anchorage Daily News, "Astros’ manager, GM fired for sign stealing after MLB bans pair," 13 Jan. 2020 With a cherubic smile and a lilting accent, Ségolène flits about, pouring wine, clearing plates and occasionally decoding Jean-Christophe’s offerings for guests whose menu French is a little lackluster. Dominic Armato, azcentral, "Looking for a traditional French restaurant in metro Phoenix? Try this Scottsdale bistro," 30 Dec. 2019 Now, researchers have decoded the giant cephalopod's genome, hoping to unlock more secrets about the legendary squid. Fox News, "Scientists unlock secrets about mysterious giant squid," 17 Jan. 2020 One or more players would decode the opposing catcher’s signals and bang on a trash can. Sean Gregory, Time, "This Week's Baseball Insanity Is the Perfect Scandal for Our Age," 17 Jan. 2020 That’s when those without prostates, roughly 50 percent of the population, will have a crack at decoding one of the most challenging plays in Western theater. Andrea Simakis, cleveland, "It’s 2019 and women still can’t wait for Godot, even in Oberlin: Andrea Simakis," 17 Nov. 2019 What was evident, as the show went along, was that the people making television — the Emmy voters themselves — were further along in decoding the new world of TV than the Television Academy or the award-show producers. Mike Hale, New York Times, "Review: ‘Fleabag’ 4, Emmys 0," 22 Sep. 2019 After decoding Pop’s system, the Nuggets must now adjust for Spurs PG Dejounte Murray, who was hurt last season. Mike Singer, The Denver Post, "Nuggets schedule released: Counting down Denver’s must-see home games in 2019-20," 12 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'decode.' 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 decode

1896, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Time Traveler for decode

Time Traveler

The first known use of decode was in 1896

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Statistics for decode

Last Updated

6 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Decode.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

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How to pronounce decode (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of decode

: to change (secret messages, documents, etc.) from a set of letters, numbers, symbols, etc., you cannot understand into words you can understand
: to find or understand the true or hidden meaning of (something)
technical : to change signals for a radio, television, etc., to a form that can be heard or seen correctly


de·​code | \ dē-ˈkōd How to pronounce decode (audio) \
decoded; decoding

Kids Definition of decode

: to change a message in code into ordinary language

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More from Merriam-Webster on decode

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with decode

Spanish Central: Translation of decode

Nglish: Translation of decode for Spanish Speakers

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