American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. The mathematical symbol (0) denoting absence of quantity; zero.
- n. An Arabic numeral or figure; a number.
- n. One having no influence or value; a nonentity.
- n. A cryptographic system in which units of plain text of regular length, usually letters, are arbitrarily transposed or substituted according to a predetermined code.
- n. The key to such a system.
- n. A message written or transmitted in such a system.
- n. A design combining or interweaving letters or initials; a monogram.
- v. To solve problems in arithmetic; calculate. See Synonyms at calculate.
- v. To put in secret writing; encode.
- v. To solve by means of arithmetic.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. In arithmetic and algebra, a character of the form 0, which by itself is the symbol of nought or null quantity, but when used in certain relations with other figures or symbols increases or diminishes their relative value according to its position. Thus, in whole numbers, a cipher when placed at the right hand of a figure increases its value tenfold, as 1, 10; in decimal fractions, when placed at the left hand of a figure, it divides the value of that figure by ten, as, .1, one tenth, .01, one hundredth, etc.; as an exponent it reduces the value of the expression whose exponent it is to unity, as x = 1, etc.
- n. Figuratively, something of no value, consequence, or power; especially, a person of no weight, influence, usefulness, or decided character.
- n. A written character in general, especially a numeral character.
- n. A combination of letters, as the initials of a name, in one complex device, engraved, stamped, or written on something, as on a seal, plate, coach, tomb, picture, etc.; a literal device. See monogram.
- n. In heraldry, such a combination of letters borne upon a small escutcheon or cartouche, and substituted in an achievement of arms of a woman for the crest, which appears only in those of men.
- n. A secret or disguised manner of writing; any method of conveying a hidden meaning by writing, whether by means of an arbitrary use of characters or combinations understood only by the persons concerned, or by a conventional significance attached to words conveying a different meaning to one not in the secret; cryptography.
- n. Anything written in cipher; a cryptogram.
- n. The key to a cipher or secret mode of writing.
- To use figures; practise arithmetic by means of numerical figures or notation.
- In fox-hunting, to hunt carefully about in search of a lost trail: said of a dog.
- To run on three legs: said of a dog.
- Of an organ-pipe, to sound independently of the action of tiie player, in consequence of some mechanical derangement in the organ.
- To reckon in figures; cast up; make out in detail, as or as if by ciphering: generally with up or out, and often used figuratively: as, to cipher or cipher up the cost of an undertaking; to cipher out the proper method of proceeding.
- To write in occult characters.
- To designate or express by a sign; characterize.
- To decipher.
- To put (a batsman) out without scoring; also, to put a cipher opposite to (a batsman's name) to indicate that he has failed to score.
- n. A numeric character.
- n. A method of transforming a text in order to conceal its meaning.
- n. cryptography A cryptographic system using an algorithm that converts letters or sequences of bits into ciphertext.
- n. Ciphertext; a message concealed via a cipher.
- n. A grouping of three digits in a number, especially when delimited by commas or periods:
- n. A design of interlacing initials: a decorative design consisting of a set of interlaced initials.
- n. music A fault in an organ valve which causes a pipe to sound continuously without the key having been pressed.
- n. The path (usually circular) shared cannabis takes through a group, an occasion of cannabis smoking.
- n. Someone or something of no importance.
- n. obsolete Zero.
- v. To calculate.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. (Arith.) A character  which, standing by itself, expresses nothing, but when placed at the right hand of a whole number, increases its value tenfold.
- n. One who, or that which, has no weight or influence.
- n. obsolete A character in general, as a figure or letter.
- n. A combination or interweaving of letters, as the initials of a name; a device; a monogram; The cut represents the initials
- n. A private alphabet, system of characters, or other mode of writing, contrived for the safe transmission of secrets; also, a writing in such characters.
- adj. Of the nature of a cipher; of no weight or influence.
- v. To use figures in a mathematical process; to do sums in arithmetic.
- v. To write in occult characters.
- v. To get by ciphering.
- v. obsolete To decipher.
- v. obsolete To designate by characters.
- n. a mathematical element that when added to another number yields the same number
- n. a person of no influence
- n. a message written in a secret code
- v. make a mathematical calculation or computation
- v. convert ordinary language into code
- n. a secret method of writing
- n. a quantity of no importance
- 14th century. From Old French cyfre, cyffre (French chiffre), ultimately from Arabic صفر (sifr) ‘zero, empty’, from صفر (safara) ‘to be empty’. Compare zero. (Wiktionary)
- Middle English cifre, from Old French, from Medieval Latin cifra, from Arabic ṣifr, from ṣafira, to be empty (translation of Sanskrit śūnyam, cipher, dot); see ṣpr1 in Semitic roots. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“And "cipher" is the nom de guerre of Le Chiffre, the numbers-man racketeer of the French Communist Party and perhaps the most odiously sadistic of Fleming's villains.”
“Eyeballing the incomplete key so far, there do seem to be some obvious glyph clusters, and I should note the possibility that solving the substitution cipher is only step one.”
“Put in cipher #2 in slot 1 so you are going to (2,0).”
“A cipher is created, the cipher is cracked; Germany creates the Enigma code machine, the Allies crack it (and don't let on that they know); electronic passports are released, with RFID chips containing biometric and other identity information, and enterprising young rebels experiment with microwaving them and other means of disablement, before realizing you just need to take a hammer to it and it's back to a plain ole paper passport.”
“The real cipher is to just get into the habit of noticing the small things that might bring about outsized improvements in our lives.”
“And, couched in code, cipher, and guarded language generally, the situation was far from clear.”
“The interested listeners were disappointed with the brevity of the conversation, and spoke guardedly and in cipher to each other after Pearl and Mrs. Paine had gone: Somebody is away, see!”
“A municipal declared that she was showing her son how to talk in cipher, and they made her renounce the lessons in arithmetic.”
“To-day a cipher from the German Foreign Office came in to be forwarded to the State Department for Bernstorff, so I suppose this is what he referred to.”
“This the major eagerly took and, noting that it was in cipher, read it by means of the code he carried in his pocket.”
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Codes, ciphers, and other words related to secret ways of communicating. See also Keeping Secrets, a list by oroboros.
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