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View synonyms for cipher

cipher

[ sahy-fer ]

noun

  1. any of the Arabic numerals or figures.
  2. Arabic numerical notation collectively.
  3. something of no value or importance.
  4. a person of no influence; nonentity.
  5. a secret method of writing, as by transposition or substitution of letters, specially formed symbols, or the like. Compare cryptography.
  6. writing done by such a method; a coded message.
  7. the key to a secret method of writing.
  8. a combination of letters, as the initials of a name, in one design; monogram.


verb (used without object)

  1. to use figures or numerals arithmetically.
  2. to write in or as in cipher.

verb (used with object)

  1. to calculate numerically; figure.
  2. to convert into cipher.

cipher

/ ˈsaɪfə /

noun

  1. a method of secret writing using substitution or transposition of letters according to a key
  2. a secret message
  3. the key to a secret message
  4. See zero
    an obsolete name for zero
  5. any of the Arabic numerals (0, 1, 2, 3, etc, to 9) or the Arabic system of numbering as a whole
  6. a person or thing of no importance; nonentity
  7. a design consisting of interwoven letters; monogram
  8. music a defect in an organ resulting in the continuous sounding of a pipe, the key of which has not been depressed


verb

  1. to put (a message) into secret writing
  2. intr (of an organ pipe) to sound without having the appropriate key depressed
  3. rare.
    to perform (a calculation) arithmetically

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Other Words From

  • cipher·a·ble adjective
  • cipher·er noun

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Word History and Origins

Origin of cipher1

1350–1400; Middle English siphre < Medieval Latin ciphra < Arabic ṣifr empty, zero; translation of Sanskrit śūnyā empty

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Word History and Origins

Origin of cipher1

C14: from Old French cifre zero, from Medieval Latin cifra, from Arabic sifr zero, empty

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Example Sentences

So, the curious ciphers and clues in these paintings situate their subjects within a complex web of cultural and political change.

Most frustrating of all is the show’s saintly cipher of a hero.

From Time

Women who knew the ciphers were not to fall into enemy hands.

One night in February 1940, after a fruitless day attacking the cipher, Herivel fell asleep in an armchair in front of his fireplace.

The 1877 commission formed to decide the election had subpoenaed copies of over 30,000 telegrams, many of them written in cipher.

Being something of a political cipher may have helped Revels rise to prominence.

He is a cipher who has reduced his own party to near-cipher status.

The Scientists profusely apologized when I left the table at which they had their Cipher.

But what of all those people watching at home, waiting for Ann to explain the cipher that is Mittens?

How else to explain the astounding fact that this cynical cipher is now more or less neck and neck with Obama in the polls?

The figure value of “sew,” therefore equals or is represented by a cipher .

A will may be found, or my uncle's marriage proved; in either case, I sink back into the cipher I was before.

In those old days when I was thrown much with this man, he had shown me a curious cipher and taught me how to use it.

So the duke said it was kind of hard to have to lay roped all day, and he'd cipher out some way to get around it.

He l'arned to read, en when Maizie came, he l'arned to write en cipher after he was a grown man.

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