Definition of decipher in English:

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Pronunciation: /dɪˈsʌɪfə/


[with object]
1Convert (a text written in code, or a coded signal) into normal language: authorized government agencies can decipher encrypted telecommunications
More example sentences
  • The harbour became so bright none of the signal codes could be deciphered.
  • The code was just being deciphered back then so they did not know what this could mean.
  • Using actual paintings like the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, Brown deciphers hidden codes tucked away inside these great art works by Da Vinci himself.
decode, decrypt, break, work out, solve, interpret, translate, construe, explain;
make sense of, make head or tail of, get to the bottom of, unravel, find the key to, find the answer to, throw light on
informal crack, figure out
British informal twig, suss, suss out
1.1Succeed in understanding, interpreting, or identifying (something): [with clause]: visual signals help us decipher what is being communicated
More example sentences
  • Just as the human genome project succeeded in deciphering the code in human DNA, scientists now believe we must seek to identify the components of the very life base of the planet.
  • Have you ever tried deciphering a doctor's prescription that looks like some sort of secret code out of World War II?
  • When we assemble a new desk or barbecue grill, she deciphers the directions, I do the actual putting together.
make out, discern, perceive, see, read, follow, fathom, penetrate, make sense of, interpret, understand, comprehend, apprehend, grasp;
untangle, disentangle, sort out, piece together



Pronunciation: /dɪˈsʌɪf(ə)rəb(ə)l/
Example sentences
  • The pages were barely readable, let alone decipherable.
  • The Dolby Digital Stereo preserves all the dialogue and makes even the most whispered conversation clear and easily decipherable.
  • These are then passed on in a kind of coded fashion which, while instantly decipherable to other journalists, is not always so clear to readers.


Pronunciation: /dɪˈsʌɪfəm(ə)nt/
Example sentences
  • It was only with the discovery and decipherment of clay tablets from Mesopotamia that their existence was ‘re-discovered.’
  • The program dealt with the decipherment of a long-lost manuscript of Archimedes entitled ‘On the Method of Mechanical Theorems.’
  • The decipherment of the Egyptian script was underway.


Early 16th century: from de- (expressing reversal) + cipher1, on the pattern of French déchiffrer.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: de|cipher

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