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.
- (transitive) To decode or decrypt a code or cipher to plain text.
- (transitive) To read text that is almost illegible or obscure
- (transitive) To make sense of a complex situation.
- 1834, L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], chapter II, in Francesca Carrara. […], volume II, London: Richard Bentley, […], (successor to Henry Colburn), →OCLC, page 13:
- Truly, we need human infirmity to teach us human nature, and that to Louis had been as a sealed book; he had only seen the coloured and gilded outside: too late he had to decipher the rough and gloomy page within.
- (transitive) To find a solution to a problem.
decipher (plural deciphers)
- 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 […]