code code [kəʊd ǁ koʊd] noun
1. [countable] LAW a complete set of written rules or laws:

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

ˈbuilding code [countable] LAW
a set of rules that states what features a new building, bridge etc should have and what features it is not allowed to have, for reasons of safety or appearance:

• The design of the suspension connections did not comply with the relevant building code.

ˈCity Code also ˌCity Code on ˌTakeovers and ˈMergers [singular]
a set of rules that should be followed in Britain when one company is taking over another
Inˌternal ˈRevenue Code [singular] TAX LAW
the complete set of tax laws in the US
ˈTakeover ˌCode [singular]
in Britain, a set of rules that companies buying other companies agree to follow, even though they do not have to by law
2. [countable] a set of numbers, letters, or signs that are used to show what something is or give information about it:

• It is all too easy to miss an employee off a list because a code has been entered incorrectly.

ˈbar code [countable] COMMERCE
a series of lines printed on products sold in a shop that can be read by a machine connected to a computer to give the price, keep a record of the sale etc:

• The scanner at the checkout recognises the bar code and charges the correct amount.

— bar coding noun [uncountable] :

• The use of bar coding has meant that restocking is done automatically.

ˌbusiness acˈtivity code [countable] COMMERCE
a number given to companies by the US tax authorities to show the type of business they are involved in
ˈsort code [countable] BANKING
a set of six numbers found on a cheque book, bank card, or bank letter showing which branch (= office) of a bank it relates to:

• Do you know the sort code and account number?

ˌUniversal ˈProduct Code abbreviation UPC COMMERCE
[countable] another name for bar code:

• the Universal Product Code that is used on packaged goods for checkout scanners

3. [countable, uncountable] COMPUTING a set of instructions that tell a computer what to do:

• a translator that will take the binary code from Windows applications and produce Alpha code

• An ANDF version of the spreadsheet runs to 200,000 lines of code.

maˈchine code [countable, uncountable] COMPUTING
instructions in the form of numbers that are put into a computer:

• Programs written using high-level languages such as C must be translated into machine code.

• They are machine codes which tell the computer precisely what to do.

4. [countable] also dialling code, STD code , area code the group of numbers that come before a telephone number when you are calling from a different area:

• What's the code for Aberdeen?

• Dial 0101 first, then your area code, followed by your home number.

5. [countable] also tax code, code number TAX a number that is given to an employee showing the amount of money that they are allowed to earn without paying any tax:

• When you get married your code will change.

* * *

code UK US /kəʊd/ noun
[C or U] a set or system of numbers, letters, or signs which is known only to particular people and represents something that is secret: access/security code »

You need an access code to get into the building.

in code »

The message was written in code.

[C] a system of words, letters, or signs which is used to represent something so that it is easy to know which thing or type of thing it is: product/identification code »

The FDA Product Code describes a product or a group of products.


We will give you a unique code to use when you make a booking.

[U] IT the letters, numbers, words, and symbols used for writing computer programs: computer/digital code »

Java computer code


write/generate/execute code

[C] a set of principles, or a set of rules which state how people in a particular organization, job, etc. should behave: abide by/follow a code »

All our members follow a strict professional code.


He has his own moral code for the way he does business.


a code of behaviour/conduct

[C, usually singular] LAW a set of rules or laws: »

the state's legal code


Their aim is to work out a code to end sweatshops.

See also AREA CODE(Cf. ↑area code), AUTHORIZATION CODE(Cf. ↑authorization code), BAR CODE(Cf. ↑bar code), BUILDING CODE(Cf. ↑building code), BUSINESS ACTIVITY CODE(Cf. ↑business activity code), CITY CODE(Cf. ↑City Code), DIALLING CODE(Cf. ↑dialling code), DRESS CODE(Cf. ↑dress code), ERROR CODE(Cf. ↑error code), INTERNAL REVENUE CODE(Cf. ↑Internal Revenue Code), MACHINE CODE(Cf. ↑machine code), SORT CODE(Cf. ↑sort code), SOURCE CODE(Cf. ↑source code), TAX CODE(Cf. ↑tax code), UNIVERSAL PRODUCT CODE(Cf. ↑Universal Product Code)

Financial and business terms. 2012.

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