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14th century. From Middle English cifre, from Old French cyfre, cyffre (French chiffre), ultimately from Arabic ????? (?ifr, “zero, empty”), from ?????? (?afara, “to be empty”). Doublet of zero. Sense 9 may be a different word.
cipher (plural ciphers)
- A numeric character.
- Any text character.
- A combination or interweaving of letters, as the initials of a name; a device; a monogram.
- A method of transforming a text in order to conceal its meaning.
- (cryptography) A cryptographic system using an algorithm that converts letters or sequences of bits into ciphertext.
- Ciphertext; a message concealed via a cipher.
- A grouping of three digits in a number, especially when delimited by commas or periods:
- (music) A fault in an organ valve which causes a pipe to sound continuously without the key having been pressed.
- A hip-hop jam session.
- The path (usually circular) shared cannabis takes through a group, an occasion of cannabis smoking.
- Someone or something of no importance.
- (dated) Zero.