reverse engineer

reverse engineered; reverse engineering; reverse engineers

Definition of reverse engineer

transitive verb

: to disassemble and examine or analyze in detail (a product or device) to discover the concepts involved in manufacture usually in order to produce something similar

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Other Words from reverse engineer

reverse engineering noun

Examples of reverse engineer in a Sentence

They reverse engineered the software.
Recent Examples on the Web That ability means anyone who knows how to put the code in place can also reverse engineer it. Sophie Bushwick, Scientific American, "New Encryption System Protects Data from Quantum Computers," 8 Oct. 2019 One of the most radical is Gary Brudvig’s proposal to reverse engineer photosynthesis as a way to capture and store solar power. The Economist, "How to rethink environmental policies from “no” to “go”," 12 Dec. 2019 Different public-key systems can utilize different algorithms, as long as they are based on mathematical problems that are easy to put into place but hard to reverse engineer. Sophie Bushwick, Scientific American, "New Encryption System Protects Data from Quantum Computers," 8 Oct. 2019 The crystals there are still growing, which makes reverse engineering their evolution a little easier. Robin George Andrews, National Geographic, "These human-size crystals formed in especially strange ways," 22 Oct. 2019 The circuit boards can be reverse engineered to determine the exact route the weapons flew. David Martin, CBS News, "Saudi oil attack was approved by Iran's supreme leader, U.S. official says," 18 Sep. 2019 Using laboratory animals, investigators reverse engineered a specific natural memory by mapped the brain circuits underlying its formation. Robert Martone, Scientific American, "A Successful Artificial Memory Has Been Created," 27 Aug. 2019 In public-key cryptography, data is secured by math problems that are easy to solve, but hard to reverse engineer. Quanta Magazine, "A Tricky Path to Quantum-Safe Encryption," 8 Sep. 2015 Efforts to reverse engineer this kind of online-dependent gameplay for historical games often face severe technical and legal roadblocks. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Guitar Hero TV’s planned shutdown spurs false advertising lawsuit," 20 Sep. 2018

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

1973, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for reverse engineer

Time Traveler

The first known use of reverse engineer was in 1973

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Statistics for reverse engineer

Last Updated

5 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Reverse engineer.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 20 January 2020.

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More Definitions for reverse engineer

reverse engineer


English Language Learners Definition of reverse engineer

technical : to study the parts of (something) to see how it was made and how it works so that you can make something that is like it

Comments on reverse engineer

What made you want to look up reverse engineer? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


not to be intimidated or subdued

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