He was ciphering in fractions at school, and what most puzzled him were the figures set to the bass.
"Better stick to your ciphering, my young friend," he said to him, one day.
“He must be respectable—he keeps a man-servant,” said Miss Tomkins to the writing and ciphering governess.
Then he takes a fresh sheet of paper and resumes his ciphering and reckoning.
He tried hard to put on a stern look, and said "I think Edward you had best attend to your ciphering."
School hours were to be spent principally in writing, ciphering, and reciting.
He often moved about the cabin with a piece of chalk, writing and ciphering on boards and the flat sides of hewn logs.
Everybody who knew anything about ciphering was called in to consider it.
He was a celebrity in ciphering, and Squire Seymour declared that he was the greatest "arithmeticker" in Fairfield county.
There was a small girl sitting near her, with a slate, ciphering.
late 14c., "arithmetical symbol for zero," from Old French cifre "nought, zero," Medieval Latin cifra, with Spanish and Italian cifra, ultimately from Arabic sifr "zero," literally "empty, nothing," from safara "to be empty;" loan-translation of Sanskrit sunya-s "empty." The word came to Europe with Arabic numerals. Originally in English "zero," then "any numeral" (early 15c.), then (first in French and Italian) "secret way of writing; coded message" (a sense first attested in English 1520s), because early codes often substituted numbers for letters. Klein says Modern French chiffre is from Italian cifra.
"to do arithmetic" (with Arabic numerals), 1520s, from cipher (n.). Meaning "to write in code" is from 1560s. Related: Ciphered; ciphering.