Trend Watch


The announcement of changes to WhatsApp encryption sent people to the dictionary

Soon after the FBI stopped seeking help from Apple to help open a terrorist’s locked iPhone, WhatsApp announced new “end-to-end” encryption that will make communication more secure when sending text messages through their service, sending many people to the dictionary to look up encrypt and encryption.

Encrypt means “to change (information) from one form to another especially to hide its meaning.” It’s a very new word in English, first used around 1950; the noun encryption came along about a decade later. It was formed from cryptogram, which means “a message written in code.” Cryptogram came to English from French, but is based on the Greek verb meaning “to hide.”

The tension between security and privacy will likely continue as hacking, surveillance, and encryption evolve and become more sophisticated.

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