- any of the Arabic numerals or figures.
- Arabic numerical notation collectively.
- something of no value or importance.
- a person of no influence; nonentity.
- a secret method of writing, as by transposition or substitution of letters, specially formed symbols, or the like.Compare cryptography.
- writing done by such a method; a coded message.
- the key to a secret method of writing.
- a combination of letters, as the initials of a name, in one design; monogram.
- to use figures or numerals arithmetically.
- to write in or as in cipher.
- to calculate numerically; figure.
- to convert into cipher.
Origin of cipher
Examples from the Web for cipher
He is a cipher who has reduced his own party to near-cipher status.Modi Crushes Gandhi in India’s Election Landslide
May 16, 2014
The Scientists profusely apologized when I left the table at which they had their Cipher.Word Is Bond: An Ex-Con Explains the 5 Percenters
April 12, 2014
But what of all those people watching at home, waiting for Ann to explain the cipher that is Mittens?Ann Romney: Mitt’s Secret Weapon Sputters
August 29, 2012
But Allen Barra says he remains a cipher for his actions off the field.Baseball's Greatest Player?
February 19, 2010
Near his body is a cipher with the digits of the Fibonacci sequence and amalgams referring to Leonardo da Vinci and his Mona Lisa.Dan Brown Decoded
The Daily Beast
September 15, 2009
Better be forty-four and yourself, than a cipher belonging to some body else.
He had been succeeded by MacMahon, a good, brave man, but a cipher.My Double Life
He had received an elementary education; could read, write, and cipher.The Downfall
No message in cipher, nor any that is at all questionable, must be sent or delivered.The Destroyer
Burton Egbert Stevenson
I told you the truth when I said that the cipher letter was an enigma to me.The Crevice
William John Burns and Isabel Ostrander
- a method of secret writing using substitution or transposition of letters according to a key
- a secret message
- the key to a secret message
- an obsolete name for zero (def. 1)
- any of the Arabic numerals (0, 1, 2, 3, etc, to 9) or the Arabic system of numbering as a whole
- a person or thing of no importance; nonentity
- a design consisting of interwoven letters; monogram
- music a defect in an organ resulting in the continuous sounding of a pipe, the key of which has not been depressed
- to put (a message) into secret writing
- (intr) (of an organ pipe) to sound without having the appropriate key depressed
- rare to perform (a calculation) arithmetically
Word Origin and History for cipher
late 14c., "arithmetical symbol for zero," from Old French cifre "nought, zero," Medieval Latin cifra, with Spanish and Italian cifra, ultimately from Arabic sifr "zero," literally "empty, nothing," from safara "to be empty;" loan-translation of Sanskrit sunya-s "empty." The word came to Europe with Arabic numerals. Originally in English "zero," then "any numeral" (early 15c.), then (first in French and Italian) "secret way of writing; coded message" (a sense first attested in English 1520s), because early codes often substituted numbers for letters. Klein says Modern French chiffre is from Italian cifra.
"to do arithmetic" (with Arabic numerals), 1520s, from cipher (n.). Meaning "to write in code" is from 1560s. Related: Ciphered; ciphering.