I am currently writing a small class in C# which will take an image, decompile it down to a byte array, obfuscate the data into a proprietary format (thus making it unreadable), and store said data into a file. The class will also optionally recompile the data, thus decrypting the proprietary format back into an image so that it can be used.

I was just wondering if someone with a better vocabulary than myself could throw a couple of words at me that would mean the same thing as encrypt and decrypt, but as a single word. I understand that there may not be a word for this, because the words hold very different meanings at their base level. However, if someone has anything good I would love to hear it.

  • in Unix, the crypt program encrypts clear text and decrypts cipher text and is often used as a verb. "Just crypt it."
    – Jim
    Jan 22, 2015 at 4:15
  • But why do you need one word for reciprocal operations? Maybe you just need class.parse().
    – Jim
    Jan 22, 2015 at 4:17
  • @Jim why do I feel like you have no idea what you're talking about?
    – Krythic
    Jan 22, 2015 at 4:37
  • @Jim However, yes, I could just use the word "Cryptography" or "ImageResourceCryptography".
    – Krythic
    Jan 22, 2015 at 4:38
  • 1
    I dunno. Why do you feel that way? I kinda feel the same- The title asks for something meaning both encrypt and decrypt which are verbs and thus would typically be used for method names. "Cryptography" is a noun which is more likely to be a class name. Synthesize is a verb which again sounds like a method name. I don't really like synthesize because it connotes creating something rather than transforming something. I don't like encrypt/decrypt/cryptography for your use because it is not really being encrypted- just obfuscated and thus is very misleading.
    – Jim
    Jan 22, 2015 at 4:59

5 Answers 5


In computing, the technical term for what you're building is called a codec (pronounced KOH-deck). It's often used specifically to describe software that both encodes and decodes images, videos, or audio files, but usually does not include literal "encryption".

That said, if you were to name your class "EncryptingCodec" or something similar, it would be apropos and immediately understandable to anyone who is familiar with the field.


To cipher or encipherment.

In cryptography, a cipher (or cypher) is an algorithm for performing encryption or decryption—a series of well-defined steps that can be followed as a procedure. An alternative, less common term is encipherment.

Wikipedia (emphasis changed).

Frankly, while this is the best word I can think of, I am not fond of it. In a sense, when you encrypt or decrypt, you are translating the text, but words like translating, transforming, and transmuting do not automatically tell the listener that the topic is cryptography. Perhaps transcipher is a useful neologism here.

My intuition, however, is that a word exists that predates computer encryption and because handwritten secret codes are now uncommon that the word has fallen out of use.


I'd say


It suggests making a change in form that preserves the core essence, which is what encryption and drecyption have in common.

  • +1 And it as the added benefit of being both a verb and a noun and so can be used for either a method name or a class name.
    – Jim
    Jan 22, 2015 at 5:45

Occasionally the term "crypt" is used as a hypernym for "encrypt" and "decrypt". I don't generally recommend it, as "encrypt" and "decrypt" are much better-known, but in some situations it can be the right choice.


I think the word transmute is a strong contender. It comes from the practice of alchemy where it signifies a change of state or form:

To transmute lead into gold.

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