What Does Break A Code Mean?

To Break a Code Meaning

Definition: To either reveal secret information that was being hidden or to breach acceptable conduct.

The first meaning is to make an undecipherable text readable. This is often done by spies and intelligence agencies that work hard to break the codes of their enemies and unlock the secrets they were trying to hide.

The second meaning is to behave in a way that is contrary to that which was agreed. This agreement can be verbal, but it is often an understood agreement, as in the “Code of Brotherhood” or “Code of Silence,” where a behavior different than expected could be punishable.

Origin of To Break A Code

can you break the code?People have been breaking codes as long as people have been making them. World War I, however, saw the emergence of the Cherokee code talkers, who developed a complex system of mixing obscure languages to pass important information to its intended recipient.

By World War II, there had built up such a resistance to these code makers that code breaking had become a skill in its own right. It’s unclear who first coined the phrase, but, by the 1940s, Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire was the home of civilian and service personnel who, according to their mission statement, “worked together to break the codes encrypted by German military officials.”

Examples of To Break A Code

breaking the codesIn the modern day, to break a code is used seriously and in jokes. “Ha! I broke your code!” might be said between friends if one good-humoredly figures out the other’s coy or deceptive remarks about something they want to keep hidden.

The more serious use is in espionage, such as, “Russia broke Germany’s codes and unearthed intelligence they never expected.”

One can also break a code of honor; for example, a gang might murder a family they promised not to.

More Examples

  • Gisele Bündchen broke a “code of brotherhood” by criticizing Tom Brady’s receivers, sources inside the Patriots organization told TMZ. –Denver Post


The phrase to break a code means to decipher intentionally unintelligible messages or not to do what is socially expected of you.