- [Arith] A character  which, standing by itself, expresses nothing, but when placed at the right hand of a whole number, increases its value tenfold.
- One who, or that which, has no weight or influence."Here he was a mere cipher." [W. Irving.]
- 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.]
- 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.
- 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.]
Etymology: 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