AskDefine | Define decipher

Dictionary Definition



1 convert code into ordinary language [syn: decode, decrypt] [ant: encode]
2 read with difficulty; "Can you decipher this letter?"; "The archeologist traced the hieroglyphs" [syn: trace]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. To decode or decrypt a code or cipher to plain text.
  2. To read text that is almost illegible or obscure.
  3. To find a solution to a problem.

Related terms


to decode or decrypt a code or cipher
to read illegible or obscure text
to find a solution

Extensive Definition

Decipherment is the analysis of documents written in ancient languages, where the language is unknown, or knowledge of the language has been lost.
It is closely related to cryptanalysis — the difference being that the original document was not deliberately written to be difficult to decipher.
The term has also been used to describe the analysis of the genetic code information encoded in DNA - see the Human Genome Project article for more on this.
Some people have also used the word metaphorically to mean something like 'understanding'.
Examples of document decipherment:
Famous documents that have been the subject of actual or attempted decipherment:
decipher in German: Entschlüsselung
decipher in Estonian: Dešifreerimine
decipher in Spanish: Desciframiento
decipher in French: Décrypter
decipher in Japanese: 解読
decipher in Turkish: Deşifre

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

account for, allegorize, analyze, answer, bottom, break, break down, cipher, clarify, clear up, crack, cryptanalyze, debug, decode, decrypt, demonstrate, demythologize, disentangle, divine, do, dope, dope out, elucidate, enlighten, euhemerize, exemplify, explain, explain away, explicate, exposit, expound, fathom, figure out, find out, find the answer, find the solution, get, get right, give reason for, give the meaning, guess, guess right, have it, hit it, illuminate, illustrate, interpret, make clear, make out, make plain, open the lock, paraphrase, plumb, popularize, psych, psych out, puzzle out, rationalize, ravel, ravel out, read, resolve, riddle, shed light upon, show, show how, show the way, simplify, solve, sort out, spell out, throw light upon, translate, undo, unfold, unlock, unravel, unriddle, unscramble, untangle, untwist, unweave, work, work out
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