• synonyms


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.
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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 for decipher

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for deciphered

analyze, elucidate, decode, deduce, unravel, solve, translate, interpret, expound, render, disentangle, read, explain, spell, reveal, break, cipher, unfold, crack, construe

Examples from the Web for deciphered

Contemporary Examples of deciphered

Historical Examples of deciphered

  • I like to think that a new reading of earth may be deciphered from this text.

  • Slowly and with difficulty I deciphered the words of this terrible denunciation.

  • There are passages that can scarcely be deciphered and others blotted with tears.

    The Choice of Life

    Georgette Leblanc

  • He has deciphered so many deceipts as amount to above 11,000.

  • For some time after I had deciphered the epistle, I stood as if rooted to the floor.


    George Borrow

British Dictionary definitions for deciphered


verb (tr)
  1. to determine the meaning of (something obscure or illegible)
  2. to convert from code into plain text; decode
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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 deciphered



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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper