1. Arith. A character  which, standing by itself, expresses nothing, but when placed at the right hand of a whole number, increases its value tenfold.
2. One who, or that which, has no weight or influence.
Here he was a mere cipher. --W. Irving.
3. A character in general, as a figure or letter. [Obs.]
This wisdom began to be written in ciphers and characters and letters bearing the forms of creatures. --Sir W. Raleigh.
4. A combination or interweaving of letters, as the initials of a name; a device; a monogram; as, a painter's cipher, an engraver's cipher, etc. The cut represents the initials N. W.
5. A private alphabet, system of characters, or other mode of writing, contrived for the safe transmission of secrets; also, a writing in such characters.
His father . . . engaged him when he was very young to write all his letters to England in cipher. --Bp. Burnet.
Cipher key, a key to assist in reading writings in cipher.
Ci·pher, a. Of the nature of a cipher; of no weight or influence. “Twelve cipher bishops.”
Ci·pher, v. i. [imp. & p. p. Ciphered p. pr. & vb. n. Ciphering.] To use figures in a mathematical process; to do sums in arithmetic.
'T was certain he could write and cipher too. --Goldsmith.
Ci·pher, v. t.
1. To write in occult characters.
His notes he ciphered with Greek characters. --Hayward.
2. To get by ciphering; as, to cipher out the answer.
3. To decipher. [Obs.]
4. To designate by characters. [Obs.]
n 1: a message written in a secret code [syn: cypher]
2: a mathematical element that when added to another number
yields the same number [syn: zero, 0, nought, cypher]
3: a quantity of no importance; "it looked like nothing I had
ever seen before"; "reduced to nil all the work we had
done"; "we racked up a pathetic goose egg"; "it was all
for naught"; "I didn't hear zilch about it" [syn: nothing,
nil, nix, nada, null, aught, cypher, goose
egg, naught, zero, zilch, zip]
4: a person of no influence [syn: cypher, nobody, nonentity]
5: a secret method of writing [syn: cypher, cryptograph, secret
v 1: convert ordinary language into code; "We should encode the
message for security reasons" [syn: encode, code, encipher,
cypher, encrypt, inscribe, write in code] [ant:
2: make a mathematical calculation or computation [syn: calculate,
cypher, compute, work out, reckon, figure]