cipher

mimi2

Senior Member
vietnam vietnamese
Hi,
“Still somehow, I could read, write, and cipher … but that was all.”
Is “cipher” a verb in this context? How could I understand it. I looked it up in the dictionary, it means “zero”. Could I understand it like this way?
Thank you very much.
 
  • Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Hi,
    “Still somehow, I could read, write, and cipher … but that was all.”
    Is “cipher” a verb in this context? How could I understand it. I looked it up in the dictionary, it means “zero”. Could I understand it like this way?
    Thank you very much.
    Hi Mimi. "Cipher" in this context is a very old-fashioned way of saying he could do arithmetic.
     

    TheAmzngTwinWndr

    Senior Member
    United States
    Dimcl's explanation sounds correct.

    But just for your own knowledge, when you hear "cipher" today it usually means a type of puzzle (like a code a military might use for communication) and to "decipher" the puzzle means to solve it.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Dimcl's explanation "sounds correct" because it is correct. In this context (and it IS this context that we are concerned about), to "cipher" means to add and subtract, although it can include multiplying and dividing as well -- that is, to perform the most basic functions of arithmetic.
     
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