Meaning of CODE in English

I. code 1 S2 W2 /kəʊd $ koʊd/ BrE AmE noun

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ code , ↑ coding ; verb : ↑ code ; adjective : ↑ coded ]

[ Date: 1500-1600 ; Language: French ; Origin: Latin codex ; ⇨ ↑ codex ]

1 . LAWS/BEHAVIOUR [countable] a set of rules, laws, or principles that tell people how to behave:

The Torah is the basis for all the Jewish laws and their moral code.

Each state in the US has a different criminal and civil code.

The judge ruled that there had been no breach of the code.

There were plans to introduce a dress code (=rules about what to wear) for civil servants.

code of conduct/behaviour/ethics

the strict code of conduct that is so much a part of karate

code of practice (=a set of rules that people in a particular business or profession agree to obey)

The Textile Services Association has drawn up a code of practice endorsed by the Office of Fair Trading.

⇨ ↑ Highway Code , ↑ penal code

2 . SECRET MESSAGE [uncountable and countable] a system of words, letters, or symbols that you use instead of ordinary writing, so that the information can only be understood by someone else who knows the system

in code

All reports must be sent in code.

break/crack a code (=manage to understand a code)

They didn’t realise that we’d broken their secret code.

3 . SYMBOLS GIVING INFORMATION [countable] a set of numbers, letters, or symbols that shows what something is or gives information about it:

Goods that you order must have a product code.

Every item found on the archaeological dig is given a code number.

⇨ ↑ bar code , ↑ genetic code , ↑ postcode , ↑ zip code

4 . TELEPHONES ( also dialling code , STD code British English ) [countable] the group of numbers that comes before a telephone number when you are calling from a different area SYN area code American English :

What’s the code for Aberdeen?

5 . COMPUTERS [uncountable and countable] a set of instructions that tell a computer what to do ⇨ ↑ machine code , ↑ source code

6 . SOUNDS/SIGNALS [countable] a system of sounds or signals that represent words or letters when they are sent by machine

⇨ ↑ Morse code

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 1)

■ phrases

▪ a code of practice/conduct/ethics (=rules for people in a particular profession or business)

There is a strict code of conduct for doctors.

▪ a code of behaviour

Each tribe follows its own code of behaviour.

▪ a code of honour (=a code of behaviour)

The family’s code of honour meant that they had to take revenge.


▪ a moral code

Children acquire their parents’ moral code.

▪ a legal code (=rules decided by law)

the legal code on the use of pesticides

▪ a penal/criminal code (=relating to the punishment of criminals)

At that time the penal code allowed the death penalty.

▪ a dress code (=rules about what you must wear)

Some of the more expensive clubs have a dress code.

▪ the Highway Code (=the official rules about driving in Britain)

You will be tested on your knowledge of the Highway Code.

▪ a strict code

In future we will have to abide by a strict code of environmental standards.

▪ a voluntary code (=one that people are not legally obliged to follow)

This voluntary code sets standards for retailers on the use of child labour.

■ verbs

▪ have a code

Most professional organizations have a code of ethics.

▪ create/produce/establish a code

They have established a code of practice for advertisers.

▪ draw up/lay down a code (=create one)

The syndicate decided to draw up a code of conduct for its members.

▪ follow a code

When children are near water, it’s important to follow a basic safety code.

▪ comply with/adhere to/conform to a code formal (=follow one)

All staff must sign and strictly adhere to a Code of Business Ethics.

▪ break a code

European steel producers were judged to be breaking the code.

▪ breach/violate/contravene a code formal (=break one)

Any companies breaching the code will be expelled from the Association.

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 2)

■ adjectives

▪ a secret code

the secret codes used during the two world wars

■ verbs

▪ break/crack a code (=discover how to understand a code)

The Enigma machine was used to crack the enemy codes.

▪ decipher a code formal (=break one)

His job involved deciphering the codes used by the enemy.

▪ write something in code

All the information we received during the war was written in code.

▪ send something in code

The message was sent in code to the task force, as a signal to attack.

■ code + NOUN

▪ a code word (=a secret word you must know to get information, access etc)

UMBRA was the code word for top secret information.

▪ a code name (=a secret name used to hide your real identity)

The spy was referred to in the report only by his code name 'Trevor S'.

• • •


▪ rule an instruction that says what people are allowed to do or not allowed to do, for example in a game, school, or company:

the rules of baseball


He disobeyed the school rules.

▪ law an official rule that everyone in a country, city, or state must obey:

It is against the law to carry a concealed weapon.


The law requires motorcyclists to wear helmets.

▪ regulation an official rule or order, which is part of a set of rules made by a government or organization:

the regulations for applying for a passport


building regulations


environmental regulations on air pollution

▪ restriction an official rule that limits what people can do:

new restrictions on immigration


The government is planning to impose regulations on the amount of alcohol you can bring into the country.

▪ guidelines rules or instructions about the best way to do something:

the Department of Health’s guidelines for a healthy diet


guidelines for classroom teachers

▪ code a set of rules that people or organizations agree to obey but are not forced to obey:

The school has a dress code for its students.


the company’s code of conduct

▪ statute formal a law that has been officially approved by a parliament, council etc, and written down:

The statute banned corporal punishment.

▪ ordinance American English a law, made by a city or town, that forbids or restricts an activity:

A local ordinance limited speed in the parks to ten miles an hour.

II. code 2 AC BrE AmE verb [transitive usually passive]

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ code , ↑ coding ; verb : ↑ code ; adjective : ↑ coded ]

1 . to put a set of numbers, letters, or symbols on something to show what it is or give information about it:

Each path is coded to show the level of difficulty.

2 . to put a message into code so that it is secret OPP decode

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.