verb (used with object), de·cod·ed, de·cod·ing.

to translate (data or a message) from a code into the original language or form.
to extract meaning from (spoken or written symbols).
Television. to unscramble (an electronic signal) so as to provide a video picture for cable subscribers.

verb (used without object), de·cod·ed, de·cod·ing.

to work at decoding.

Origin of decode

First recorded in 1895–1900; de- + code Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for decoding

Contemporary Examples of decoding

Historical Examples of decoding

  • He stumbled on a broken street sign, decoding what was left of it, and considered.


    Lester del Rey

  • When he was staying with us he was for ever telegraphing, cabling to America, or decoding messages.

    The Secret House

    Edgar Wallace

  • They are decoding signalled and written messages, script of every kind.

    Women and War Work

    Helen Fraser

  • Decoding is dependent on knowledge of language characteristics—characteristics of known languages.

  • The human genome project is now decoding the genetic mysteries of life.

British Dictionary definitions for decoding



to convert (a message, text, etc) from code into ordinary language
computing to convert (coded characters) from one form to another, as from binary-coded decimals to decimal numbersCompare encode (def. 2)
electronics to convert (a coded electrical signal) into normal analogue components
to analyse and understand the construction of words and phrases, esp in a foreign language
Derived Formsdecoder, 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 decoding



1896, from de- + code. Related: Decoded; decoding.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper