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Alternative forms[edit]


As decypher, but not retaining the y from the Old French etyma of cipher (cyfre, cyffre); the i spelling tends to be preferred etymologically, being consistent with its cognates, the French déchiffrer and the Italian decifrare, and with their common ancestor, the Medieval Latin cifra, cifera, ciphra.



decipher (third-person singular simple present deciphers, present participle deciphering, simple past and past participle deciphered)

  1. (transitive) To decode or decrypt a code or cipher to plain text.
  2. (transitive) To read text that is almost illegible or obscure.
  3. (transitive) To find a solution to a problem.

Derived terms[edit]

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decipher (plural deciphers)

  1. A decipherment; a decoding.
    • 1837, Arthur Wellesley Duke of Wellington, John Gurwood, The Dispatches of Field Marshall the Duke of Wellington, K.G.
      I enclose a letter which I received yesterday evening from the Marques de Monsalud, containing the decipher of a letter from the King to the Comte d'Erlon. I wish that the Marques had sent the ciphered letter here []