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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from decipher

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

Synonyms & Antonyms for decipher



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 And the new 5-inch, color TFT display is sharp, easy to decipher and adds to the bike’s futuristic styling. Manuel Carrillo Iii, Robb Report, 6 Oct. 2021 An auditory system would need to decipher between human cries and sounds that often happen in nature, such as animal calls and wind. Washington Post, 17 June 2021 Scientists have begun to decipher the seismic signals that reveal how explosive a volcanic eruption is going to be. Robin George Andrews, Wired, 6 June 2021 Now, Lindell's fraud campaign is fizzling and his endgame is getting harder to decipher. Stephen Montemayor, Star Tribune, 12 Mar. 2021 Google listened to its rebellious staff and pulled out of the project to use AI to decipher aerial surveillance footage. Thomas Brewster, Forbes, 8 Sep. 2021 Quantum gravity was also at work in the first moments of the Big Bang, but direct signals from that era are long gone, leaving us to decipher subtle clues that first appeared hundreds of thousands of years later. Quanta Magazine, 7 Sep. 2021 Trying to imbue those moments with greater import, however, soon proves a wearisome endeavor, especially considering that, aside from a few melancholic soundtrack arrangements, there’s little way to decipher their overarching intention. Nick Schager, Variety, 25 Aug. 2021 This type of information can be used to decipher future warnings as pivotal points take shape. Stephanie Innes, The Arizona Republic, 14 Aug. 2021

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.

See More

First Known Use of decipher

1545, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About decipher

Time Traveler for decipher

Time Traveler

The first known use of decipher was in 1545

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near decipher



deciphering alphabet

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for decipher

Last Updated

20 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Decipher.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Oct. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for decipher



English Language Learners Definition of decipher

: to find the meaning of (something that is difficult to read or understand)


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.

More from Merriam-Webster on decipher

Nglish: Translation of decipher for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of decipher for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Dog Words Quiz

  • shiba puppy more or less demanding cuddles
  • Which of the following animals has a dog in its etymology?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!