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steganography (ste-guh-NOG-ruh-fee) noun

Secret communication by hiding the existence of message.

A couple of examples of steganography: shrinking the secret text (by repeated use of a photocopy machine) until it's the size of a dot and then putting it in an unsuspected place, such as on top of a letter i in some innocuous letter. Second, shaving the head of a man, writing the secret message on his pate with unwashable ink, and then letting the hair grow back before dispatching him to the destination. To take an example from modern digital techniques, one could put the text of a message in the blank spaces in an image file.

[From Greek stego- (cover) + -graphy (writing).]

"The history of cryptography crackles with famous names. Shifting the whole alphabet forward or backward by one or more letters, so that, for example, A becomes B, B becomes C, and so on, is known as a `Caesar shift', one of the simplest kinds of cypher or letter-substitution code (see the title of this article). Julius Caesar also used the ruse of writing a Latin message in Greek characters so that it would be unreadable if intercepted by the Gauls. One such missive was delivered to the besieged Cicero fixed to a spear which was hurled into his camp by a messenger. And pin-pricking the letters of an existing document to spell out a secret message, a form of steganography popular in Victorian times when newspapers could be sent by post for free, dates back to Aeneas." Moreover: Tijguz cvtjoftt, The Economist (London) Aug 28, 1999.

This week's theme: words formed using combining forms.


If the camel once gets his nose in a tent, his body will soon follow. -Arabian proverb

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