English [ edit ]
Alternative forms [ edit ]
Etymology [ edit ]
14th century. From
Middle English , from cifre Old French , cyfre ( cyffre French ), ultimately from chiffre Arabic صِفْر ( ṣifr, “ zero, empty ” ), from صَفَرَ ( ṣafara, “ to be empty ” ). Doublet of . Sense 9 may be a different word. zero
Pronunciation [ edit ]
cipher ( plural )
A numeric character.
Synonyms: , number numeral Any text character.
This understanding wisdom began to be written in ciphers and characters and letters bearing the forms of creatures. A combination or interweaving of letters, as the initials of a name.
Synonyms: , device monogram
1834, L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], Francesca Carrara., volume I, London: [ … ] Richard Bentley, [ … ] , (successor to Henry Colburn), , OCLC 630079698 page 290: Just then, an attendant to whom the Queen had whispered returned; and taking a small case from her hand, Anne produced a bracelet somewhat similar to the very one with which Francesca had parted, excepting that it had her cipher, surrounded by a wreath of fleurs-de-lis. "Louis, will you offer this to Mademoiselle Carrara?"
a painter's cipher an engraver's cipher A method of transforming a text in order to conceal its meaning.
Synonym: code The message was written in a simple cipher. Anyone could figure it out. 1724, [Gilbert] Burnet, [Gilbert Burnet Jr.], editor, Bishop Burnet’s History of His Own Time., volume [ … ] (please specify |volume=I or II), London: [ … ] Thomas Ward [ … ] , : OCLC 863504080 His father [… ] engaged him when he was very young to write all his letters to England in cipher.
( cryptography ) A cryptographic system using an algorithm that converts letters or sequences of bits into ciphertext.
a public-key cipher
Ciphertext; a message concealed via a cipher.
The message is clearly a cipher, but I can't figure it out. A grouping of three digits in a number, especially when delimited by commas or periods:
The probability is 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,000 — a number having five ciphers of zeros.
( music ) A fault in an organ valve which causes a pipe to sound continuously without the key having been pressed.
( music , slang ) A hip-hop jam session.
 2011, “The World Is Listening”, in The Journey Aflame, performed by Akua Naru: They say no girls in the cipher, so I rock solo
( slang ) The path (usually circular) shared cannabis takes through a group, an occasion of cannabis smoking.
Synonym: rotation 1993, “Midnight”, performed by A Tribe Called Quest: As the night seemed darker, cops is on a hunt / They interrupt your cipher, and crush your blunt Someone or something of no importance.
Synonyms: , nobody , nonentity ; nothing see also Thesaurus: nonentity 1724, [Gilbert] Burnet, [Gilbert Burnet Jr.], editor, Bishop Burnet’s History of His Own Time., volume [ … ] (please specify |volume=I or II), London: [ … ] Thomas Ward [ … ] , : OCLC 863504080 There he was a mere cipher. ( dated ) Zero.
Derived terms [ edit ]
Related terms [ edit ]
Translations [ edit ]
combination or interweaving of letters
method for concealing the meaning of text
grouping of three digits in a number, especially when delimited
music: fault in an organ valve
someone or something of no importance
— see zero
cipher ( third-person singular simple present , ciphers present participle , ciphering simple past and past participle )
( intransitive , regional , dated ) To calculate.
I never learned much more than how to read and cipher.
1843 April, Thomas Carlyle, “ch. IX, Abbot Samson”, in , American edition, Boston, Mass.: Past and Present Charles C[offin] Little and James Brown, published 1843, , book II (The Ancient Monk): OCLC 191225086 For the mischief that one blockhead, that every blockhead does, in a world so feracious, teeming with endless results as ours, no ciphering will sum up.
a. 1887 (date written) , Emily Dickinson, “ [Book IV.—Time and Eternity ] (please specify the chapter or poem)”, in Mabel Loomis Todd and T[homas] W[entworth] Higginson, editors, Poems, First Series, Boston, Mass.: Roberts Brothers, published 1890, , OCLC 1001812663 page 115: So I must baffle at the hint / And cipher at the sign, / And make much blunder, if at last / I take the clew divine. 1979, Octavia Butler, Kindred:
Can you cipher too—along with your reading and writing?
( intransitive ) To write in code or cipher.
( intransitive , music ) Of an organ pipe: to sound independent of the organ. ( obsolete ) To decipher.
References [ edit ]
Anagrams [ edit ]