RE: To decrypt or decipher

Subject: RE: To decrypt or decipher
From: "David Slonosky" <David_Slonosky -at- i2 -dot- com>
To: "McClare, Scott" <smcclare -at- neptec -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 1 Dec 1999 11:46:56 -0500

Strictly speaking, code is a one-to-one correspondence of a code word or phrase
to a given word or phrase. e.g. "Aunt Martha is sick" might really mean "Pamela
Lee is appearing at your local WalMart".

A cipher is a transformation of plain text into a set of textual or other
elements that are clearly not natural language elements. I would agree with your
definitions of encryption and enciphering, except for the portions regarding
code. I *am* splitting hairs. :) I believe encoding is a legitimate verb as


"McClare, Scott" <smcclare -at- neptec -dot- com> on 12/01/99 11:17:02 AM

Please respond to "McClare, Scott" <smcclare -at- neptec -dot- com>

To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
cc: "'tudsbery -at- matranet -dot- com'" <tudsbery -at- matranet -dot- com> (bcc: David
Subject: RE: To decrypt or decipher

[cc'd to Edwin Tudsbery, as TECHWR-L still seems a bit slow IMO]

tudsbery -at- matranet -dot- com [mailto:tudsbery -at- matranet -dot- com] asked:

> Do the verb decrypt and the noun decryption exist? Or should I use "to
> decipher" and "deciphering".

They're both listed in the Oxford Concise English Dictionary, 9th ed.

My impression is that "to decrypt" and "to decipher" are not strictly
synonymous. Encryption is rendering data into code to make it inaccessible,
whereas enciphering is a blanket term covering *many* ways of hiding data -
one-time pads, code-words, Enigma, Navajo, and so on. Maybe I'm splitting

Take care,


Scott A. McClare - Technical Writer
Neptec Design Group Ltd., Kanata, Ontario, Canada
(613) 599-7603 x504
smcclare -at- neptec -dot- com

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