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decipher

[dih-sahy-fer]
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verb (used with object)
  1. to make out the meaning of (poor or partially obliterated writing, etc.): to decipher a hastily scribbled note.
  2. to discover the meaning of (anything obscure or difficult to trace or understand): to decipher hieroglyphics.
  3. to interpret by the use of a key, as something written in cipher: to decipher a secret message.
  4. Obsolete. to depict; portray.

Origin of decipher

1520–30; translation of Middle French déchiffrer. See de-, cipher
Related formsde·ci·pher·a·ble, adjectivede·ci·pher·a·bil·i·ty, nounde·ci·pher·er, nounde·ci·pher·ment, nounun·de·ci·pher·a·ble, adjectiveun·de·ci·pher·a·bly, adverbun·de·ci·phered, adjective

Synonyms

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2. comprehend, solve, unravel, explain.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
British Dictionary definitions for decipherability

decipher

verb (tr)
  1. to determine the meaning of (something obscure or illegible)
  2. to convert from code into plain text; decode
Derived Formsdecipherable, adjectivedecipherability, noundecipherer, noundecipherment, noun
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 decipherability

decipher

v.

1520s, from de- + cipher. Perhaps in part a loan-translation from Middle French déchiffrer. Related: Deciphered; deciphering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper