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CIPHER. An arithmetical character, used for numerical notation. Vide Figures, and 13 Vin. Ab. 210; 18 Eng. C. L. R. 95; 1 Ch. Cr. Law, 176.
     2. By cipher is also understood a mode of secret writing. Public ministers and other public agents frequently use ciphers in their correspondence, and it is sometimes very useful so to correspond in times of war. A key is given to each minister before his departure, namely, the cipher for writing ciphers, (chiffre chiffrant,) and the cipher for deciphering (chiffre dechiffrant.) Besides these, it is usual to give him a common cipher, (chiffre banal,) which is known to all the ministers of the same power, who occasionally use it in their correspondence with each other.
     3. When it is suspected that, a cipher becomes known to the cabinet where the minister is residing, recourse is had to a preconcerted sign in order to annul, entirely or in part, what has been written in cipher, or rather to indicate that the contents are to be understood in an inverted or contrary sense. A cipher of reserve is also employed in extraordinary cases.

References in classic literature ?
I have said enough to convince you that ciphers of this nature are readily soluble, and to give you some insight into the rationale of their development.
So there was splendour and wealth, but no great happiness perchance, behind the tall caned portals of Gaunt House with its smoky coronets and ciphers.
Because there are many ciphers which I would read as easily as I do the apocrypha of the agony column: such crude devices amuse the intelligence without fatiguing it.
And some certain significance lurks in all things, else all things are little worth, and the round world itself but an empty cipher, except to sell by the cartload, as they do hills about Boston, to fill up some morass in the Milky Way.
If it had been booked for only a month away, I could have sold it short; but, as matters stood, I couldn't seem to cipher out any way to make it do me any good, so I gave up trying.
Leave me alone to cipher out a way so we can run in the daytime if we want to.
The other member of his pet organization was allowed the like liberty because he was a cipher in the estimation of the public, and nobody attached any importance to what he thought or did.
I can read and write and cipher as well as anybody now, and that's enough for me.
I guess you'll report what you hear and see to the cipher at the Grange; and this thing won't be settled while you linger about it.
So saying, he pulled out his own handkerchief, likewise a very elegant handkerchief, and of fine cambric--though cambric was dear at the period--but a handkerchief without embroidery and without arms, only ornamented with a single cipher, that of its proprietor.
Lady Bertram seems more of a cipher now than when he is at home; and nobody else can keep Mrs.
Afterwards he had, to fulfill the prearranged cipher, to fill in any two words in each space.