- to make out the meaning of (poor or partially obliterated writing, etc.): to decipher a hastily scribbled note.
- to discover the meaning of (anything obscure or difficult to trace or understand): to decipher hieroglyphics.
- to interpret by the use of a key, as something written in cipher: to decipher a secret message.
- Obsolete. to depict; portray.
Origin of decipher
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
2. comprehend, solve, unravel, explain.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for decipher
It was beyond the capacity of any human cryptologist to decipher the signals.The Castration of Alan Turing, Britain’s Code-Breaking WWII Hero
November 29, 2014
I never owned a copy but I knew people who did, and we spent hours in dorm rooms trying to decipher what was on it.Digging the Gold in Dylan’s ‘Basement’
November 5, 2014
For those few months it may have appeared quite simple to decipher the good from the bad.An Ex-Radical's Open Letter to ISIS Fighters: Quit Now While You Can!
September 10, 2014
The duchess sat at a replica radio to hear, learn about, and decipher morse code.Kate Middleton’s Code-Breaking Granny: Duchess Uncovers Wartime Secrets
June 19, 2014
After a brief exchange to decipher why Smith, Alencar, and Mousa wanted to go to Syria, the journalists told them to go home.War Tourists Flock to Syria’s Front Lines
November 2, 2013
Many others are so defaced that it is impossible to decipher them.Harriet, The Moses of Her People
Sarah H. Bradford
There is not a living eye that could now decipher these memorials.The New Adam and Eve (From "Mosses From An Old Manse")
Of Greek I can decipher perhaps the greater part of the Greek alphabet.A Treatise on Parents and Children
George Bernard Shaw
To decipher the message, a special code-book or dictionary would be required.Heroes of the Telegraph
And still he dreaded the approach of the day when he should decipher its awful meaning.Masterpieces of Mystery
- to determine the meaning of (something obscure or illegible)
- to convert from code into plain text; decode
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Word Origin and History for decipher
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper