decode

verb
de·code | \ (ˌ)dē-ˈkōd \

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)

2a : decipher sense 3a

b : to discover the underlying meaning of decode the play's imagery

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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

But now, a number of companies are producing maps that decode the three-dimensional world. Jessi Hempel, WIRED, "How Maps Became the New Search Box," 13 June 2018 Since its genesis, the account has become the primary source for decoding Supreme’s weekly drops, providing commentary alongside diptychs. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "You Won’t Find America's Menswear Designer of the Year at NYFW Men’s," 9 July 2018 The tiki-taka that so beguiled the world from 2008 through 2012-plus has been decoded, and the players who perfected it have aged out. Brian Straus, SI.com, "Dogged Russia Continues World Cup Run, Brings Spain's Celebrated Era to an End," 1 July 2018 And while his name sounds meaningful, it isn’t easily decoded. Debra Granik, New York Times, "Review: ‘Leave No Trace’ Is a Very American Story About Survival," 28 June 2018 The outfit-decoding machine has gone into high gear multiple times before, including even before Trump got into office. Eliza Brooke, Vox, "The first lady is a mystery. That’s why we try to figure her out through her style.," 22 June 2018 When the human genome was first decoded, the hopes for a quick medical payoff were high. Kyle Peterson, WSJ, "Cracking the Code of Life—at Light Speed," 27 Apr. 2018 David Lusseau, formerly at the University of Otago, spent 137 days decoding the jumps of dolphins of New Zealand’s Doubtful Sound. National Geographic, "Why Humpback Whale Babies Whisper to Mom," 8 June 2018 Lindsey Jordan, the 19-year-old Maryland singer-songwriter behind the band Snail Mail, somehow knows how to decode even the most overwhelming emotions into honest, uncomplicated songs better than most older artists. Robert Steiner, BostonGlobe.com, "On Snail Mail’s ‘Lush,’ adolescent angst from an old soul," 6 June 2018

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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Statistics for decode

Last Updated

18 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for decode

The first known use of decode was in 1896

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More Definitions for decode

decode

verb

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)

: to change signals for a radio, television, etc., to a form that can be heard or seen correctly

decode

verb
de·code | \ dē-ˈkōd \
decoded; decoding

Kids Definition of decode

: to change a message in code into ordinary language

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