Meaning of “code” in the English Dictionary

"code" in British English

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uk /kəʊd/ us /koʊd/

code noun (LANGUAGE)

B2 [ C or U ] a system of words, letters, or signs used to represent a message in secret form, or a system of numbers, letters, or signals used to represent something in a shorter or more convenient form:

The message was written in code.
She managed to decipher/break/crack (= succeed in understanding) the code.
Each entry in this dictionary has a grammar code.

More examples

  • She ran her code through the compiler.
  • They cracked the code and read the secret message.
  • Each person's genetic code is unique except in the case of identical twins.
  • The enemy were unable to break the code .
  • We realized that his message was some kind of code.

code noun (RULES)

C1 [ C ] a set of rules that are accepted as general principles, or a set of written rules that say how people in a particular organization or country should behave:

Clinics will be subject to a new code of conduct and stronger controls by local authorities.

[ C ] a set of principles that are accepted and used by society or a particular group of people:

a moral code
a code of behaviour/ethics

More examples

  • The club has a strict code of conduct.
  • Members must conform to a strict dress code.
  • Most evenings there's a party and the dress code is strict - black tie only.
  • He said he was bound by a scientist's code of ethics.
  • Newspaper editors have agreed a new code of practice on the invasion of privacy.

code noun (GENES)

specialized medical [ C or U ] an arrangement of genetic material in DNA (= the chemical that carries genetic information in cells):

genetic codes

codeverb [ T ]

uk /kəʊd/ us /koʊd/

(Definition of “code” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"code" in American English

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us /koʊd/


[ C/U ] a system for representing information with signs or symbols that are not ordinary language, or the signs or symbols themselves:

[ U ] Andrew writes computer code.
[ C ] Callers punch in four-digit access codes for various topics.

code noun (PATTERN)

biology /koʊd/ [ C ] genetic code

code noun (RULES)

[ C ] rules for the way people should behave, or a set of written rules or laws that tell people what to do:

Faculty members are expected to follow the school’s honor code.
Is there a dress code where you work?

codeverb [ T ]

us /koʊd/

to represent information in a way that is not ordinary language, as with special signs or symbols:

Many areas of the brain code and store information.
adjective [ not gradable ] us /ˈkoʊ·dɪd/

Electronically coded cards are issued to food-stamp recipients.

(Definition of “code” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"code" in Business English

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uk /kəʊd/ us

[ C or U ] a set or system of numbers, letters, or signs which is known only to particular people and represents something that is secret:

access/security code You need an access code to get into the building.
in code The message was written in code.

[ C ] a system of words, letters, or signs which is used to represent something so that it is easy to know which thing or type of thing it is:

product/identification code The FDA Product Code describes a product or a group of products.
We will give you a unique code to use when you make a booking.

[ U ] IT the letters, numbers, words, and symbols used for writing computer programs:

computer/digital code Java computer code
write/generate/execute code

[ C ] a set of principles, or a set of rules which state how people in a particular organization, job, etc. should behave:

abide by/follow a code All our members follow a strict professional code.
He has his own moral code for the way he does business.
a code of behaviour/conduct

[ C, usually singular ] LAW a set of rules or laws:

the state's legal code
Their aim is to work out a code to end sweatshops.

(Definition of “code” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)