Cryptonym, or code names, are words, symbols, or numbers used in place of the actual name of a person, item, or planned event. The term is derived from two Latin roots, crypto meaning secret, and nym, meaning name. A security and counterintelligence measure, code names facilitate covert communication and enhance secrecy.
Cryptonym have long existed in many forms, each tailored to fit the circumstance in which they are used. To preserve security, military and intelligence operation code names most often have littler or no relationship to the classified item, person, or event that they represent. Sometimes, such cryptonym are intentionally misleading. During World War II, the American military used the code name "Husky" to refer to a planned 1943 invasion of North Africa.
Intelligence and military agents working in the field often use cryptonym to disguise their identity. As means of protecting both volunteer operatives and the organizations, members of partisan groups in the French Resistance referred to each other by code names. Names of French villages, historical persons, and professional titles were commonly used cryptonym. Resistance volunteers adhered to the codename system to minimize the chance of Gestapo infiltrators, or with captured partisans under duress, easily identifying organization members.
Other types of cryptonym include number series, now commonly used in reference to military and computer technology, and symbols. Though used extensively throughout history as a means of maintaining a secret identity, the practice of substituting secret symbols for proper names has fallen out of favor. In medieval France and England, knights and nobles wishing to send secret communications often signed their messages with secretive wax seals different in color and design from their family crests or signature seals.
Although assigning intelligence matters of great importance a cryptonym is one of the oldest espionage and enciphering technologies, the practice remains commonplace today. Code names are no longer the exclusive domain of governments, military, or intelligence agencies. With the advent of the Internet, the ever-present user name, or handle, has become the most popularly used from of cryptonym.
"Cryptonym." Encyclopedia of Espionage, Intelligence, and Security. . Encyclopedia.com. (March 18, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/politics/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/cryptonym
"Cryptonym." Encyclopedia of Espionage, Intelligence, and Security. . Retrieved March 18, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/politics/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/cryptonym
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.