Ci"pher (?), n. [OF. cifre
zero, F. Chiffre figure (cf. Sp. cifra, LL.
cifra), fr. Ar. çifrun,
çafrun, empty, cipher, zero, fr.
çafira to be empty. Cf. Zero.]
1. (Arith.) A character  which,
standing by itself, expresses nothing, but when placed at the
right hand of a whole number, increases its value
2. One who, or that which, has no weight
Here he was a mere cipher.
3. A character in general, as a figure or
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
His father . . . engaged him when he was very
young to write all his letters to England in cipher.
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
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
Ci"pher, v. t. 1.
To write in occult characters.
His notes he ciphered with Greek
2. To get by ciphering; as, to cipher out
3. To decipher. [Obs.]
4. To designate by characters.