Definition of code in English:

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Pronunciation: /kōd/


1A system of words, letters, figures, or other symbols substituted for other words, letters, etc., especially for the purposes of secrecy: the Americans cracked their diplomatic code sending messages in code
More example sentences
  • The spread of mobile telephones and even the use of secret words or codes show that secrecy is essential to close deals or pass on information.
  • She played a key role in the recruitment and briefing of agents, and became an expert writer of letters in code.
  • These include the letters, written in code, which are said to make clear she was in favour of inflicting pain on her enemies.
cipher, key;
1.1A system of signals, such as sounds, light flashes, or flags, used to send messages: Morse code
More example sentences
  • The other's light code flashed angrily as its drive signature fluctuated.
  • In similar fashion, the female glowworm uses the male glowworm light code to signal him.
  • Aircraft not sending out the code might well be shot down as the enemy.
1.2A series of letters, numbers, or symbols assigned to something for the purposes of classification or identification: the genetic code calls with either code will work in the 201 area
More example sentences
  • We are seeing boats coming in from all over the world with manufacturer identification codes assigned by their country of origin.
  • Currently, companies are the smallest army element to be routinely assigned unit identification codes.
  • The officer turned to face a terminal, inserting an identicard and entering a series of codes.
2 Computing Program instructions: hundreds of lines of code assembly code
More example sentences
  • The code then downloads spyware programs to surfers' PCs, including one that steals credit card numbers and other forms of financial information.
  • The answer is 609,000 and this is the number of lines of code in the software for the computers and avionics systems.
  • Using this drag-and-drop methodology, users can create program code with minimal user input or understanding.
3A systematic collection of laws or regulations: the criminal code
More example sentences
  • Under the doctrine of breach of statutory duty some regulatory codes may give rise to civil liability when breached.
  • This is itself a judicial interpolation into the statutory code.
  • The penal code does not criminalize such conduct, and would be clearly unconstitutional if it did.
law(s), rules, regulations;
constitution, system
3.1A set of conventions governing behavior or activity in a particular sphere: a dress code
More example sentences
  • There is no written code of conduct for these venues, although each one will have a slightly different unwritten code of behavior.
  • There is no supreme code of behavior that dictates who I have to be nice to.
  • The prejudging judgment might be as broad as the spoken English language, or the dictionary, or some other code or convention.
morality, convention, etiquette, protocol, value system
3.2A set of rules and standards adhered to by a society, class, or individual: a stern code of honor


[with object]
1Convert (the words of a message) into a particular code in order to convey a secret meaning: only Mitch knew how to read the message—even the name was coded
More example sentences
  • Thus the hats contain a message coded in the manner in which they are worn.
  • The package enables audio traffic - such as a phone conversation - to be coded as data, sent down an internet connection and then decoded at the other end.
  • Given that the messages are claimed to be coded, it would seem that network editing is unlikely to pick them out.
1.1Express the meaning of (a statement or communication) in an indirect or euphemistic way: (as adjective coded) a national campaign against “playing by ear,” a coded phrase that meant jazz
More example sentences
  • This visual narrative appears to have incorporated other animal stories as well as interjected some coded political statements.
  • He has removed any potential threat of even coded criticism from the foreign secretary by removing him from his post.
  • So any seasoned interpreter immediately understood that ‘Curriculum for Excellence’ was coded language for tat and dumbing-down.
1.2Assign a code to (something) for purposes of classification, analysis, or identification: she coded the samples and sent them down for dissection
More example sentences
  • Instruments were coded with an identification number to track and follow up with non respondents.
  • All sections were coded to prevent identification of the probe type or setting used.
  • Type and severity of maltreatment were coded using the maltreatment classification system developed by Barnett et al.
2Write code for (a computer program): most developers code C + + like C [no object]: I no longer actively code in PHP
More example sentences
  • When we code a computer program, we do not rewrite the entire thing every time something fails to work.
  • When you think of high technology, you probably imagine a software engineer sitting behind a computer, coding some new program.
  • I didn't find it a difficult exam, but then I've been coding Windows Forms since Visual Basic 4 back in 1997.
3 [no object] (code for) Biochemistry Specify the genetic sequence for (an amino acid or protein): genes that code for human growth hormone
More example sentences
  • This gene codes for a protein which is 513 amino acids in length.
  • Because of their possibly unusual evolution, genes coding for ribosomal proteins were excluded from the analysis.
  • Mutations in genes coding for these proteins may be tolerated in an otherwise wild-type cell through the presence of one or more checkpoint pathways.
3.1Be the genetic determiner of (a characteristic): one pair of homologous chromosomes that codes for eye color
More example sentences
  • The population will have ‘responded’ and become ‘adapted,’ but only because the genetic information coding for waxier cuticles and deeper roots was already present.
  • The loss of eye function is the result of a ‘downhill’ mutational change, a corruption or loss of the genetic information coding for eye manufacture.
  • It had nothing to do with demonstrating how the genetic information coding for feathers could have arisen in the imagined reptilian ancestors of birds.


bring something up to code

North American Renovate an old building or update its features in line with the latest building regulations.
Example sentences
  • In 1905, the architect bought the building on Orchard Street and included these improvements when he brought it up to code.
  • The gallery, which was formerly a storefront, had to undergo a few building improvements to bring it up to code.
  • Workers replaced the windows, cleaned the brick and brought the building up to code with ramps and elevators.



Pronunciation: /ˈkōdər/
Example sentences
  • An important part of piloting the coding scheme will be testing for consistency between coders and, if time permits, intra-coder reliability.
  • Traditional programming requires a few coders to commit a lot of time and effort, for which they will reasonably expect to be paid.
  • To hit the broadest range of potential coders, you've got to show them the vast range of what programming can allow you to do.


Middle English: via Old French from Latin codex, codic- (see codex). The term originally denoted a systematic collection of statutes made by one of the later Roman emperors, particularly that of Justinian; compare with sense 3 of the noun (mid 18th century), the earliest modern sense.

  • This was originally a term for a system of laws; the sense ‘secret writing’ developed in the early 19th century. It comes from Latin codex, which developed from a simple meaning of a ‘a block of wood’, to ‘a block split into leaves or tablets’ thus ‘a book’. The related term codicil (Late Middle English) is from Latin codicillus, a diminutive of codex, and thus applies to a ‘small’ part of a legal document.

Words that rhyme with code

abode, bestrode, bode, commode, corrode, download, encode, erode, explode, forebode, goad, implode, load, lode, middle-of-the-road, mode, node, ode, offload, outrode, road, rode, sarod, Spode, strode, toad, upload, woad

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: code

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