‘Crack the Code’: Definition, Meaning, and Examples

By Amy Gilmore, updated on November 8, 2022

‘Crack the code’ is a popular figure of speech that you may hear in movies or that someone may say to you in conversation. It means solving a problem or deciphering a code. However, people use the term in many different ways. 

To learn more about this idiom, take a look at this guide. It includes meanings, examples, alternatives, and tips to help you remember the meanings of other famous sayings. 

What Does ‘Crack the Code’ Mean? 

When someone asks you to ‘crack the code’ they usually want you to solve a puzzle, decipher a code, or come up with an answer to a tough problem. 


Definition of ‘Code’ 

In the term, a ‘code’ is a series of numbers and letters used in place of others to hide the meaning of a message. Other words for ‘code’ include hieroglyphics, key, cipher, and cryptogram. 

Definition of ‘Crack’ 

To crack something in the context of this phrase means to break or solve it. So, to ‘crack the code’ means to solve the code. 

Origin of ‘Crack the Code’ 

‘Crack the code’ is a term that gained popularity during World War II. ‘Codes’ had been used by militaries for centuries however, they were far less sophisticated until the development of the enigma machine used by Nazi soldiers. Enigma machines created a code that was nearly impossible to decipher. After World War II, people continued to use the statement, which is just as popular today as it was when people first started using it. 

Modern Usage of ‘Crack the Code’

‘Crack the code’ is an old saying. However, people often use older sayings to describe newer terms. For example, today, this idiom can mean completing a complex computer code or learning to code. Many schools use the term to describe computer programming classes or lessons

Recently, reporters have used the figure of speech in article titles describing:

  • An app that helps parents decode messages sent between teens and drug dealers. 
  • A method physicists are using to simulate quantum entanglement. 
  • A new financing tool for freemasons. 
  • Five of the most famous codes ever cracked. 
  • A bid to combat gun violence in schools. 
  • A complicated brain teaser.
  • The key to happiness during the second half of life. 

The phrase is also used in the titles of books, video games, board games, mind puzzles, and more. 

When Do People Use ‘Crack the Code?’

‘Crack the code’ is a statement people use in many different contexts. However, this is a statement you could use in a professional email or personal text. You could use the statement to tell a co-worker or boss that you finally found a solution or tell your friends that you solved a problem you have been working on. 

Examples of ‘Crack the Code’ 

To gain a better understanding of the meaning of a phrase, it helps to see examples. Take a look at this idiom in the sentences below. 

  • We worked for weeks on the project but finally ‘cracked the code.’ 
  • To ‘crack the code,’ the team will need to use all of their resources. 
  • We are ‘cracking the code’ to solve world hunger. 
  • After you ‘crack the code,’ your hard work will be rewarded. 
  • The professor teaches computer science students a course called ‘Cracking the Code.’ 
  • The doctors ‘cracked the code’ with new genetic testing. 
  • Cutting corners will not work if you want to 'crack the code.'

Alternatives to ‘Crack the Code’

This idiom is acceptable to use ‘crack the code’ in nearly any setting. However, there are a few synonyms you can use if you prefer, like: 

  • Clear up
  • Figure out
  • Unravel
  • Untangle 
  • Translate
  • Decipher
  • Interpret
  • Solve
  • Decode
  • Decrypt
  • Work out
  • Unriddle

Final Advice on ‘Crack the Code’ and Other Popular Idioms

'Crack the code,' is often associated with things like escape rooms, secret languages, or brain teasers, but it can also be

Popular sayings are an excellent way to relate to your audience. However, using an idiom incorrectly makes you look knowledgeable and out of touch. Even if you have used a term in the past, if you are unsure of its meaning, you should verify it before using it. Additionally, the usages and meanings of idioms and other popular sayings like ‘crack the code’ and ‘welcome aboard’ occasionally change or evolve.

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Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

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