The book no one can read: Why can’t anyone decipher this mysterious manuscript?

Inside the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University is the Voynich manuscript: a book that has come to be known as “the world’s most mysterious manuscript.” Since a team of scientists has recently determined the age of  the Voynich (pronounced Voy-nitch) manuscript, we relish the opportunity to discuss this enigma as well as some wonderful words around cryptography and linguistics.

Consisting of 240 pages of detailed illustrations and a cipher (a method of secret writing using substitution or transposition of letters according to a key), the book has a unique and notorious quality. For decades, historians and scientists have studied its ancient pages but have been unable to decipher its text.  Who wrote this manuscript and why? Is there a hidden message within the pages of this document?

A book dealer named Wilfrid M. Voynich discovered the manuscript outside of Rome in 1912, and it has been in the news because of the work of scientists at the University of Arizona. Using a technique called radiocarbon dating, the team of researchers concluded that the book was probably composed between 1404 and 1438 – earlier than previously thought. The detailed illustrations of specific dress, hairstyles and landscapes as well as the “letter-based cipher” theory help to identify the region of origin as European. The manuscript is written on vellum (animal skin); this enabled scientists to accurately date the manuscript.

The text within the manuscript consists of over 170,000 glyphs, some resembling Latin text. These pictographs or characters, written with one or two simple pen strokes, outline six sections: Herbal, Astronomical, Biological, Cosmological, Pharmaceutical and Recipes. Each section contains an illustration depicting the subject and within each section there seems to be an alphabet consisting of 20-30 distinct glyphs that repeat. However, there are about twenty-four isolated characters that occur only once or twice throughout the manuscript.

Many scientists and historians believe that the manuscript was meant to act as a pharmacopoeia – a handbook for early modern medicine. If this is true, perhaps once accurately deciphered, the manuscript will help navigate scientists toward uncharted medical territory.

Some theorize the text is idioglossia, a private language that only one or two people could ever decipher. The oddness of the characters suggests at the very least an argot, “a specialized idiomatic vocabulary peculiar to a particular class or group of people, devised for private communication.”

And who wrote the manuscript? Some theorists believe Voynich himself was the author. If that is the case, the manuscript is not only one of the greatest cons in literary history but a work of linguistic genius in its own right. Any theories of your own? Share them below.


  1. Suzanne Redalia -  December 5, 2016 - 7:31 pm

    Please visit my blog ‘Fun With Jiroft Script’ at Quora, in it I have a Voynich sign list (it’s a syllabary like Linear B, not an alphabet) and the language is Italo-Celtic, something like Gaulish with lots of Greek and Germanic loan words. Northern Italy once had several Italo-Celtic languages, of which one, LePontic, was related to very old inscriptions.
    I’ve been using the University of Wales Proto-Celtic lexicon to puzzle out the texts, most of which appear to be simple, repetitive prayers to Gaia and Jove.
    No wonder the office of the Inquisition had this book in its keeping.

  2. Rohan Roger David Zener -  October 21, 2016 - 3:13 am

    Perhaps this ought to answer the mystery credibly:
    Entertainment has actually been around since ancient times. It has been documented to take the forms of sports and toys, as you may have seen from artifacts dated from then. So what’s to say that they wouldn’t have written fictional worlds back then? In some cases the authors created fictional scripts meant to represent an imaginary language other than their own, some of them being implied alphabets, others implied as semantophonemaries or syllabaries. The spelling rules provide hints at the possibility of each conclusion. Without going further into a tangent, the alternative scripts were meant as an aid to experience the stuff described in their manuscripts.
    So these books don’t hold any secrets to the meaning of life, or any “forbidden knowledge”. They’re literary entertainment centred on imaginary worlds.

  3. Gemini -  September 1, 2016 - 4:21 am

    I’ve been searching so long for my lost document and it pains me seeing all the people who have held it but can’t read it. The language is easy to understand but no one knows how to understand it. A certain family was assigned be able to read that book. I’m not saying I’m of that family but I can read the Voynich manuscript with ease ans further translate it so everyone else can see it too.

  4. machindra kute -  April 20, 2016 - 2:59 am

    HO KA …………

    • T -  August 9, 2016 - 8:57 am

      From reading some post and the one image
      Music hims cores diary Amerie come to mind

      • T -  August 9, 2016 - 9:28 am

        From reading some post and the one image
        Music hims cores Diary Amerie BC Goizbo come to mind like ex. Highlander /a emmortals the number 600 9 like not much choice ,how too protected one self

  5. Karin Marie Olt -  February 22, 2016 - 5:02 pm

    I decoded the Voynich Manuscript 2011. Read my facebook Karin Christian or Karin Marie Olt copyright2011

    • Karin Marie Olt -  March 20, 2016 - 4:06 pm

      This is Karin I can read every page now. I challenge any one. My eBook is coming out soon. My face book page is an education site. EBook will prove to all how to read it. So you better believe in God , Miracles , and Heaven. They gave me the made up language codes. It does explain how to make gold. But their gold is a little different in 1460.My publisher doesn’t know what the book is so he has no priority to get it out by Easter . so the codes just sit in a copyright office doing nothing. In the mean time I took the most complex page and it was so easy. I don’t even have to try I automatically know. I can teach to schools now. Everyone will have a new language.what would you do if you were me ? /

      • D. Santry -  July 19, 2016 - 6:42 pm

        Self publish!

  6. Heidi -  November 6, 2015 - 5:18 pm

    This is a question to everyone on this post. I am hoping someone out there can give me some information about a book my son acquired a while back.

    It is extremely old, around the 1600 – 1700′s, looks like real skin and has like veins that can be felt. Inside, without reading everything, as my son and his friend (both over 20 years old and in the public safety field) – were spooked by this book and have it locked in a safe.
    The quick summary of what they both felt it was about as they skimmed through pages here and there -

    Handwritten by a girl who tells her story about how she started out learning witchcraft. She wrote all her experiences along with spells. As she nears the end of the book she has changed and starts experimenting with the dark spells. She writes of those experiences she had.

    What are your thoughts? Anyone?

    • Preonii -  November 11, 2015 - 7:38 am

      So I am only 15 years old. I was interested in this book but something caught my attention in Math class or something, but have you notice the First letter that looks like PYE>PIE the number symbol kind of looks like the F as a cursive symbol. The rest of the letters or the “Dead” language ones are unofficially readable yet. But instead of getting technical…. why don’t you use simple things to decode? We use such high technology to discover these things. That to DISCOVER, not DECODE or stuff like that, so if we use simpler methods, maybe we can find the answer because we’re suppose to be, “advance” as the CP Eura…. so why don’t we use simple methods of old languages to decipher this? Something like, I don’t know, something we already know how to read from something from around the time the book came out and try to experiment within the dead language?

    • John -  December 5, 2015 - 12:16 pm

      Heidi, please contact me.

    • Giovanna -  December 8, 2015 - 11:12 am

      Hello Heidi, I believe your son acquired her “Book of Shadows”.
      Every witch has one, and it’s like a personal journal & encyclopedia of witchcraft.
      Mind sharing pictures of it?

  7. Charles Collins -  May 18, 2015 - 8:15 am

    Since I posted about my deciphering the manuscript I got one nasty reply from Allysa – May 8, 2015 – 8:20 pm.
    I have hired a lawyer and applied for a Patent to my research.
    This transcription will be available June 01,2015.
    I am happy to say I will be the only one on Earth that has solved this script.
    I will show one such translation in its entirety. Enjoy what everyone said could not be achieved.
    Translation from a Folio. “Hoc de est liber plantis.”
    Allysa, I have a masters in Education but thanks for your snot remark.

    • Truth -  May 23, 2015 - 1:08 pm

      Charles I don’t understand. Earlier you said you would never reveal the secrets. Now you say you are getting a lawyer and revealing the secrets. Has the book confused you? Put an idiot spell on you? I’m worried about you and your drastic mood swings. Perhaps a doctor would be a better move than a lawyer at this point Charles.

    • michael carr -  June 15, 2015 - 7:30 pm

      i believe that the star is the (Eastern Star) if people know what i mean and how far this symbol date back. For all dont try to deciphering this, it will lead to a path of darknerness and death.

      • michael carr -  June 15, 2015 - 7:40 pm

        Also with that been said, if your an Eastern Star( Mason) look at the symbols the are they same or similar in there book and only a Mason can Translate and/or read there book. if your not one of them you can read it because it written in differently and takes a second book to understand.

  8. Allysa -  May 8, 2015 - 8:24 pm

    it really does make you think though. what could it be what does it say should you be scared or should you be relived. haha sanferio no via cortez cavion misreth betrion.

  9. Allysa -  May 8, 2015 - 8:16 pm

    the first word says today and below the first word it says
    8 am just by looking at the picture to go with the article maybe it was a medical journal or maybe it could of been notes written from test he’s done medically and he’s just keeping a notes to see if he can improve on anything I saw in a comment above some where that in the book there are numbers in the top corner of the pages maybe there dates or times you just have to look clearly and think hard think of what it isn’t first rather than what it is. keep trying

  10. Charles -  March 12, 2015 - 11:24 pm

    Not only can I read this manuscript, I also know where it originated, why it is left secret, and why I won’t ever reveal its contents.
    Some things are better left alone.

    • Allysa -  May 8, 2015 - 8:20 pm

      i doubt you can read it! its not something that is readable to air heads that think they can read or do anything, ha pathetic.

    • John -  June 7, 2015 - 3:10 pm

      If you believe it is better left alone, you wouldn’t be so boastful (on a dictionary website, nonetheless) Charles. Quiet down, no one here takes you seriously.

  11. Dalton C -  August 11, 2014 - 1:09 am

    On one page with the moon that is split between three states what we now call months. This book is not all about medicine. Even though scientist can really read the book some parts of the book are easy to read

  12. dog trainers in louisiana -  February 7, 2014 - 3:41 am

    The combiation would sometimes knock the imbibers out for
    a couple off days. History: The L

  13. manolo -  August 20, 2013 - 7:46 am

    and if the sheets were found after a hundred years, and only time there has been imprinted, perhaps by Leonardo da Vinci in the period that he worked for the Sforza family hello.

  14. Sakeeta -  August 14, 2013 - 1:46 pm

    This could very well be a Book of Shadows. That person could be right about the alchemy part too, as it goes hand in hand.

    A Book of Shadows is basically a diary, that a witch writes their spells and secrets in. Many witches have written them in ancient, secret languages. They can read it, no one else can. Their are also books that can be spelled so a normal person cannot translate it.

    Magic is real, and everything a normal person thought was true, is not.

    Wake up sheep, there is a lot out there you are oblivious to.

    This book may hold the secrets of alchemy, it may hold the secrets of something much much deeper… much much worse… we may never know.

    I have been asking other people that are involved in the occult, if they have been having this… feeling lately… that something big is about to happen… They all say yes… I’ve been feeling it massively. Have you?

    • Steven -  October 28, 2014 - 1:19 pm

      So what happened to that feeling you had? Is it delayed?

    • Kuro -  March 19, 2015 - 12:45 pm

      I have indeed felt this. Reading through this book gives me great chills, especially the symbols this book contains. THis book is not something to be taken lightly. Nor should it be toyed with like it’s just a scientifical book.

      I hope that this is not decoded… Especially with the vibes I’m getting from it. I have a bad feeling about this. The sigils inside speak something about darkness to me, as well as corruption. I don’t think this is an alchemists book.

      This is worse than it looks. Far worse. Especially the marking on page 132.

      Note that inside that marking, every one of the beings holds a star on their left hand. This to me indicates a sacrifice of some sort, because not only do they hold the star (Assumed it represents their life), they also have their right arms in the same position. The only one that does not hold their right arm in said position is the one near the hole in the paper. I believe this represents a break of some sort, or an interruption in the process.

      In my personal opinion, this is a dark book and should NEVER be decoded.

      Keep in mind that I belong to no one religion. I study all equally as the chance comes. I might also be wrong about this, but of course, I am only a high schooler. But it still gives me nasty chills whenever I see the sigils.

      A friend of mine gave the link to the book online to decode, since I demonstrated extreme ease in decoding something that would have taken her over an hour. That is how I ran across it, but I no longer believe that it should be decoded, unless one wishes to risk their life.

      Sakeeta, I am glad I saw your comment about this book. I fear you may be right, but I fear that some one will decode it and everything will go downhill from there. Let us hope this does not happen.

      Many thanks to you,
      Kuro Kenshi.

    • Elysiumslight -  May 11, 2015 - 7:46 am

      I am one of those ppl who have been experiencing things around me since the age of 13yrs old.. And developed my own deeply rooted personal beliefs.. Beliefs that I have never known another person to have … It wasn’t until nearly 25 yrs later And the access of enternet did I discover that the things I encounter are all part of a very realistic group.( some study and become members – some are naturally born part of it like I was) my personal gut belief is that any book written stays with its writer .. If the creator passes so shall the writings with in the book.. So I don’t think this is the same.. Besides books such as what you speak of if they are to be secret and remain hidden they will !

  15. Kelly -  August 14, 2013 - 6:42 am

    Is there proof positive that the vellum is animal skin and not human skin.
    Human skin would denote that it is a book of spells.
    Where the writers beleived the spells would take on their own life by hitching a ride on the soul of the murdered child.
    The Papal Bulls were written with that notion.

    • Ashley -  August 18, 2014 - 1:15 pm

      Book of Shadows don’t need to be on animal skin and not all witches would murder a child. Get a grip you brainwashed pig. Witches were demonized by the Christian church, but I daresay we’ve killed less people than the church has.

  16. Choi -  July 1, 2013 - 1:41 pm

    I hope the book can be read before i die hahahah

  17. Jackie -  May 23, 2013 - 10:44 am

    It probably holds the secrets of living forever, so I’m going to steal it.

  18. connor -  April 16, 2013 - 3:13 pm

    It was Doctor Whos it is rely a book from Gallifrey and i tells the secrets of the tardis and how to make some good soup

  19. alex -  March 28, 2013 - 7:33 pm

    I think the book could discuss secret recipes’ for medicines’ that could change the world, and possibly the truth is being suppressed? Ah conspiracy theories, what would we be without them!?

  20. Matilda -  March 4, 2013 - 1:10 pm

    A pharmicopeia? That sounds cool. What if it was something from outer space? I love cryptonology! I SOOOOO wish to find a copy of its interesting symbols and give it a hand. What if it’s in another language though, or the Idoglossia thing they were saying?I say NICOLAS FLAMEL wrote it. There are just way too many secrets that Earth holds! Crystal Skulls, Mayan Calendars, Aliens, Shroud of Turin, and the Book That Can’t Be Read! I want to see this solved!!!!

  21. patricia -  February 16, 2013 - 10:50 pm

    I agree it be neat to put sections on internet n see what can be translated.ancient roots, early languages, middle languages combined.intresting. I want to see this solved.

  22. Alan Sparrow -  November 18, 2012 - 11:04 am

    Now that the Shroud of Turin has almost certainly been attributed to a brilliant early photographic trick from non other than the magnificent Leonado da Vinci, with his very own face embedded within the ancient cloth; my bet is that the Voynich Manuscript is typical of that man’s supreme intelligence and great sense of humour!

  23. Jakob -  November 13, 2012 - 4:52 pm

    I think that the book was probably written by an ascended master who had tuned his body as an instrument of pure consciousness. In this way he would have been able to see the microscopic details of plants, along with their spiritual properties. Such a person probably wrote the book as a legacy that he could later decode for the world. The language it is written in may be ancient, or it may have manifested from a divine understanding of energy. One who is this skilled in shaping his own mind and knowing his own soul would not find it difficult to fathom reincarnating at a later time to explain the manuscript to the world. For me to expound such an opinion, I MUST MAKE CLEAR: Such a person who can decode this book for the world would have to be able to demonstrate to linguistic speciallists the nature of the language of the book in its relation to life. Such a person would have to be able to demonstrate the recipe and its healing properties. Such a person would not come forward until the world is ready to accept the spiritual truth that such a demonstration would impose.

  24. Mfm -  October 6, 2012 - 9:56 pm

    Perhaps there is the cure for todays cancers… And many more killing diseases.
    hopefully wont get decipher on the wrong hands.

  25. Fattyk -  October 29, 2011 - 9:53 am

    Oh! It looks more complicated. However, how did they manage to know what might be written in the book such as the aforementioned purpose which it serve for ( i.e herb), meanwhile no one can read it. Therefore whoever sugest what might be written in the book will no about the language and how it is written. Not everything in life can be determined by computer or scanner.

  26. Tammy D -  October 28, 2011 - 11:40 am

    Did the scientists test the ink, or just the vellum? What about the book’s cover?

  27. Tammy D -  October 28, 2011 - 11:40 am

    Wasn’t Voynich a rare book dealer? Who’s to say he didn’t get his hands on some old vellum and other materials and just make the book himself, then write the book? Or what if he was able to acquire a really old vellum book that had never been written in and he did the drawings and the words?

  28. King Viz -  October 27, 2011 - 7:43 am

    There are no unknowns, only things that are not being shared.

  29. Jayzee -  October 27, 2011 - 4:14 am

    What about the encrypted sculpture that is outside the Langley, Virginia CIA headquarters that hasn’t been decoded yet!

  30. Daniel -  October 26, 2011 - 11:25 pm

    The answer is simple. This is the book on how to understand women.

  31. Frustated @ Ignorance -  October 26, 2011 - 7:25 pm

    @ corey11

    corey11 on February 15, 2011 at 8:00 pm
    it would be impossible for DiVinci to write it it was made from way befor his time even if he did it would have to be when he was a kid because he was working on so many other peces and that isent possible because the die was a very expencive they estemated that it was worth over 200 dollers back in there time just in materiles. it would of taken 2 years and there was not one mastake an alean wrote it i am serous

    corey11 on February 15, 2011 at 8:01 pm
    also just to let you adalts know i am 11 and i am in 6th grade

    corey11 on February 15, 2011 at 8:01 pm
    notice my spelling mastakes
    First off, if you’re in the 6th grade, you must have wealthy parents to bribe your teachers, as your grammar, punctuation, and capitalization stinks. Also, if you KNOW you are making spelling mistakes, then get a tad bit more of an education, and FIX THEM.

    Anyways, on to the story…

    @ Toby P on February 15, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    This is probably the only comment worth reading. Thank you Toby for not wasting my time. All of science’s time dating methods are flawed. None of them are exact. Each of them is used for different time frames based on ages past. If they were exact, then it would be exact regardless of the age. So, since there is a variable degree of inaccuracy, it is most certainly possibly, and highly probable, that Da Vinci may have done this piece of work.

  32. Aaron DeCamp -  October 26, 2011 - 6:22 pm

    Chuck Norris wrote it, and he is the only one who could ever decode it. He made it to get people crazy, which he succeeded in his attempt. Peace.

  33. Bob The Builder #1 -  October 26, 2011 - 5:15 pm

    WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOwwwwwwwww!!!!! So cool, it’s just like me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    P.S. ( pears are stalkers and cell phones are trying to take over the world!)

  34. N7xMartinx666 -  October 26, 2011 - 1:42 pm

    imagine how many mysteries does the human race has kept for aeons!! and how cool it would be to decipher all those secrets, divine or otherwise!!!

  35. JavierV -  October 23, 2011 - 4:23 pm

    Me parece que lo importante no es saber quien lo haya escrito sino saber de qué trata el texto…
    Tampoco tiene sentido que alguien lo haya escrito “para que lo encontraran después y todo el mundo se pregunte de qué trata”, como hago yo ahora que no me molesto en escribir en una lengua extranjera, si no me comprenden ahí tienen el traductor de Google.

  36. Jay -  October 22, 2011 - 8:00 am

    Mistress of Darkness!!??!? Grow up!!

  37. c -  October 22, 2011 - 3:35 am

    aliens, because humans are aliens. /thread

  38. 7%Solution -  October 21, 2011 - 1:54 pm

    Publish sections of it on the web and see if anyone can break the code. If they can’t read it, what’s the harm? Maybe enough minds could do what a few minds could not.
    If it was encrypted and involved healing, it was to protect the author and any book holders from charges of witchcraft. If healers could heal without needing “god’s intervention” aka The Church of Rome, then they were :witches” and burned at the stake, tortured, ot both. By encrypting the text, the book could be read by a select few but would be jibberish to any Catholic authorities… or modern scientists. Or it’s one heck of a great hoax! If a hoax, WHY? What else is in the book? If script is found beneath the hoax text, it could be even more important.

    • Anon -  November 24, 2016 - 8:21 pm

      This is the only comment I’ve seen here that uses any logic and common sense!

  39. bumpyRd -  June 24, 2011 - 12:59 pm

    BTW you should not really comment w/o rtfa nor dismiss teams of scientists very lightly.

  40. #1 Skillet Fan -  March 7, 2011 - 5:52 pm

    I still think DaVinci wrote it. I heard that he wrote backwards because he was left handed, so mabe looking at it in a mirror would help decode it? Furthermore carbon dating isn’t really all that accurate in the first place, so it could be a later date than the one that carbon dating calls for…just a thought
    ~Chick Drummer~

  41. Weretheysmarterthanus? -  February 27, 2011 - 7:05 am

    Is there a key to the manuscript? Or is that why scientists (or whatever you’re calling them) are having such a hard time decrypting the manuscript? If there isn’t a key to the language/code, could it be in the pictures? Because you have to admit, most people wouldn’t put in pictures with a manuscript of any kinds-it would just be words, words, and more words. Perhaps the pictures were put there to just spike everyone’s attention, like the person who wrote the manuscript knew (just KNEW) that we would find it and become utterly fascinated.
    So, I say we should look towards the pictures, not the words. Look for a key in the pictures. I have no idea what you would look for in the pictures. Perhaps letter-like strokes in the images? I have no idea.

    As for my theory? It probably shares some of the secrets from the 1400′s. You KNOW there has to be stuff that happened in the 1400′s that we don’t know about, and that could tell us some of the mysteries that happened. There could be some observations of the stars, bible, even plants(!) that we haven’t caught up on, but they did. I think that’d be pretty cool…just so long as they share exactly what the manuscript says…and posts it online perhaps as well. ;D

  42. Greg Moore -  February 25, 2011 - 12:54 pm

    Someone so involved with plants could have stumbled upon a hallucinogen and decided to write whatever came to mind. Any pictures of mushrooms?

  43. Greg Moore -  February 25, 2011 - 12:12 pm

    Something tells me it had to do with warfare. During that era there were kingdoms rising and falling almost daily across Europe. Too long for a battle plan, it might have been a history of war

  44. Susan Jordan -  February 24, 2011 - 12:02 pm

    How about a pre-Indo-European language? The European languages today all go back to Indo-European roots, from the Bronze Age invasions or migrations by waves of barbarians coming into India and Europe from the Asian steppes and wrecking the ancient Neolithic civilizations — some of whose primeval languages came to be known as Etruscan, pre-Minoan Cretan etc. The only remaining Euro language related to Neolithic peoples (builders of stone circles like Stonehenge) is Basque. Just a thought… Most people don’t even know about the lost Old European Neolithic civilization (read Gimbutas).

  45. Anonymous -  February 19, 2011 - 1:31 pm

    @DJB LOL Are you talking about Narnia?

  46. ka.trina -  February 18, 2011 - 4:25 pm

    Doesn’t it look familiar to anybody? Anyone read Lord of the Rings? Anyone actually look at the Elvish language that Tolkien created? If a man in the 20th century can create his own language than a man in the 15th century can.

  47. JESSICA -  February 17, 2011 - 1:35 pm

    to I on February 15, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    there are actually 65 exclamation points (!’s)

    NOT 66!!!!!!! HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!

  48. Curly -  February 17, 2011 - 10:06 am


    No, I don’t think so. I know that it’s not so. Hebrew is not exactly an obscure language. If it was Hebrew, it would have been recognized.

  49. wow!!!!!!!!! -  February 17, 2011 - 12:29 am

    wow interesting and here is sth. hard to decode

    vby590 89n 8mub90./v9u4tvn489bn4 t9-4m59 509,y 590y m50=yk,n

    A:vby590 89n 8mub90./v9u4tvn489bn4 t9-4m59 509,y 590y m50=yk,n

    and froggy are u sure your answer works

  50. holly -  February 16, 2011 - 10:04 pm

    really interesting! thank you dictionary com :)

  51. the ugly watermelon -  February 16, 2011 - 9:51 pm

    same thing as the weird banana!

  52. the weird banana -  February 16, 2011 - 9:49 pm

    i hope the other weird banana doesn’t copy me now!(laugh)

  53. the ugly watermelon -  February 16, 2011 - 9:47 pm

    same thing as the weird banana!:)

  54. the weird banana -  February 16, 2011 - 9:42 pm

    this is exciting! But, come on! Can’t at least SOMEONE decode it? No offense, but humans are pretty lame actually!

  55. KevG -  February 16, 2011 - 6:49 pm

    Anybody wonder about the De Ricci Census Vol. II 1846-7 on the inside cover, maybe Vol. I is still in Rome somewhere, probably in the Vatican.

    Just wondering….

  56. TwiliYoshiComet -  February 16, 2011 - 6:31 pm

    I have seen this book on my father’s laptop. It’s very interesting yet confusing. Besides, what’s with the numbers in the top right corner? At first I thought they were the page numbers, but then I thought it was a guide. The plants? I thought the numbers told you the amount of plants or items you need for . . . I dunno. Anyhow, do you think that there is something in the blank spaces of the paper? I do.

    By the way, theunkownutakofan I completely agree. Perhaps it is someone’s own ‘personal’ language. You know, people get bored so they make up stuff and get the whole world involved with it. For example, aliens that came to earth or som’n. Please no harshness! Believe it or not, I am a deep believer in outer space. So, anyway, it could be a guy in the 20th centery who threw us humans off track with the ‘unknown language’ whom is probobly laughing at us. Or, do you think maybe a king wrote it or something? You know, to another kingdom while the place was at war? It is possible.
    . . . . . . . Ah. Me and my 11 year old imagination.

    Oh! And I have three things in mind of what this could be.
    1. It’s an alien
    2. It’s ‘personal’ language
    3. The guy was sycho

    However, do you think the writing is Hebrew?

  57. Beth -  February 16, 2011 - 6:06 pm

    MAYBE, just maybe…this book was written by a girl…

    Her full name was Mary Lettice, but her family called her Letti. She had a fantastic imagination and loved to pretend. Her father was a scribe for the king and supported his family. In the summer of her 14th year, while he was away at the castle, she went to his library, took his feather quill pen and an blank “scribe-book”. Missing her papa, she began to write…

  58. jenny -  February 16, 2011 - 6:01 pm

    aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii wwwwwwwwwwwoooooooooonnnnnnnnnn the lottory!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  59. AshleyAwesome -  February 16, 2011 - 5:36 pm

    It sounds like something that would be very interesting to understand, and it might even unlock some secrets of the past! It’d also be a key to hopefully understanding other mysterious languages. See, history CAN be fun :D

  60. Froggy -  February 16, 2011 - 12:31 pm

    Hold it in front of a mirror, turn upside down, and begin reading. You’re welcome.

  61. Nicole -  February 16, 2011 - 11:31 am

    The book could have been found before Mr. Vonynich turned it in…it could have been found by his great-great grandpa…then passed down from family to family until the Vonynich we are talking about…sold it?…maybe he was in debt and sold it for money?…it could be…the possibilities are endless…

  62. emily -  February 16, 2011 - 11:30 am

    i see it says 8 am

  63. Anonymous -  February 16, 2011 - 10:45 am

    @I: They’re called “exclamation points”, so you know.

  64. sangeet -  February 16, 2011 - 10:43 am

    I feel form the above given picture that it was written using a enciphering method like KAMA-SUTRA cipher ,used in India during 400AD which take into account all 64arts of a woman while enciphering a message and represent the entire message in symbols, these 64 arts are explained in KAMASUTRA book……

  65. John -  February 16, 2011 - 10:13 am

    Well, if it was written by Da Vinci way back when has anyone tried to decipher the mirror image of the document? Then that phrase that they’ve decoded as ‘icnivad ordranael’ might make sense. Hey wait, Icnivad Ordranael? Wasn’t that a cousin of Elrond?

  66. Luis Legarreta -  February 16, 2011 - 9:49 am

    I love this piece of trivia. Is the manuscript scanned and visible on the web?

  67. theunknownotakufan -  February 16, 2011 - 9:23 am

    Hmm…I actually watched a documentary on the History channel about this 2 or 3 weeks ago. I’m only 14 and this had my attention. I want to know what thaat book is about (I mean I want to know what it says) It seems that no one knows how to decode this book…maybe the author of this book created a language by combinding latin and his own ‘personal’ language. I mean it’s not very hard to do, people at my school have created a language called “NINE” it mixes english, spanish, japanese and random symbols/penstrokes. Of corse, NINE is used for note passing, but thats not the point. If teens can create a language combinding several languages and random penstrokes, maybe someone in the 14-16th century did it too? If this is true, the author must have the fallowing skills: extinse knowladge, being very artistic, patience, a steady hand and must have alot of money. There are some pages that fold out in the book, plus the book has over 200 pages. Paper, which was animal hide back then, was expensive, exspecially if they a fold out was to be done. These cluses may seem small, but it helps alot. We may never find out who the true author is, but maybe one day we can decode it

  68. Aimes -  February 16, 2011 - 9:10 am

    Wow I wish I could read it.

  69. Marlene S. -  February 16, 2011 - 6:50 am

    I’m sure Watson, the Jeopardy computer could figure it out.

  70. Denis Guéret -  February 16, 2011 - 6:49 am

    although Italians are master at manufacturing fake antiques, this one must be as old as it seems since in 1912 Carbon 14 dating wasn’t known. It would have been an improbable set of circumstances for Mr Voynich to come across a stack of 15th century cured and unused parchment and for him to take the time to reverse-engineer some encyclopedia. More likely a fake would have been made with new velum aged by artificial means to create the illusion.The book is really an enigma since the amount of time, effort and ressources to produce it in the early 15th (as well as in the 20th) would have been prohibitive if it was just for a joke. Further it would have been extremely dangerous since a manuscript like this one would have appeared to be from satanic inspiration. The cypher is very sophisticated and probably rely on false assumptions about the vehicule and the subject.

  71. McV -  February 16, 2011 - 5:07 am

    During the early 1400s, when the manuscript was written, it was fairly common to see con-artists hawking cure-alls and recipes for making gold to ignorant wealthy Europeans. There is an old cipher method where you have a sheet of paper with strategically placed holes in it. And when those holes are laid on top of the writing, you read the letters in those holes. That same sheet of paper with holes can be used to generate a false text relatively quickly. The scammer writes all of his glyphs on a sheet and moves the holy paper over the glyph sheet. Whichever symbols are revealed, he copies into the book. This theory is supported by the fact that the book has not a single scratched-out line or mistake (most texts written then had plenty of scribbled-out parts, additions, etc., as parchment was very expensive and writing drafts was not common practice). In addition, carbon-dating samples taken from the beginning and end of the book were found to be almost exactly the same age, which may show that the book was written in a very short period of time (too short for a person to realistically be able to write over 200 pages with full illustrations, unless they used the cypher method). When one take a look at the rather clumsily-drawn illustrations, it is easier to see the possibility that somebody threw this book together rather quickly and after a showy demonstration of his healing powers, sold it to unwitting royalty for a large sum of money.
    I find it more likely that a person would devise a way to con the rich and make money, when the alternative is that a person spent years, perhaps his/her whole lifetime collecting samples, testing the properties of plants and herbs and describing and classifying them, only to hide it from the by writing one copy of it in an unbreakable code.

  72. Daniel -  February 16, 2011 - 1:04 am

    Some one should try typing it in google translator that should tell them the latin and other languages then they can guess the last couple of bits :P

  73. rishab -  February 15, 2011 - 11:15 pm

    cool……….i’d like to see it..

  74. corey11 -  February 15, 2011 - 8:01 pm

    notice my spelling mastakes

  75. corey11 -  February 15, 2011 - 8:01 pm

    also just to let you adalts know i am 11 and i am in 6th grade

  76. corey11 -  February 15, 2011 - 8:00 pm

    it would be impossible for DiVinci to write it it was made from way befor his time even if he did it would have to be when he was a kid because he was working on so many other peces and that isent possible because the die was a very expencive they estemated that it was worth over 200 dollers back in there time just in materiles. it would of taken 2 years and there was not one mastake
    an alean wrote it i am serous

  77. corey -  February 15, 2011 - 7:57 pm

    it would be impossible for DiVinci to write it it was made from way befor his time even if he did it would have to be when he was a kid because he was working on so many other peces and that isent possible because the die was a very expencive they estemated that it was worth over 200 dollers back in there time just in materiles.
    an alean wrote it i am serous

  78. A.J. -  February 15, 2011 - 6:38 pm

    @Grant Jacobson

    “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
    than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

  79. Polite -  February 15, 2011 - 6:36 pm

    it’s the recipie for coke. :P

  80. AnastasiaBeaverhausen -  February 15, 2011 - 6:25 pm

    I honestly think it doesn’t matter. While language may be the foundation of all being, so to speak, some things are better left “unsaid” … if you will. It could be possible that there is nothing to read into (excuse the puns) and that we should just appreciate it for what it is: a sliver of history. As they say, “ignorance is bliss”, and maybe we self-righteous, conceited humans don’t need to know everything (:

  81. grant -  February 15, 2011 - 5:48 pm

    its a frod! whoever found it is a total liar something like this never comes up.
    grant jacobson= facebook name

  82. Alexaya -  February 15, 2011 - 5:36 pm

    wow…… this is amazing if i got my hands on it i could probaly read it……LOLZ

  83. LLOOPP -  February 15, 2011 - 5:24 pm

    stay in the loooooooooooooooooooop:)

  84. l -  February 15, 2011 - 4:41 pm

    so this rare book sounds really interesting to me:) and imagine how much work it takes to find out these types of mysteries.this is cool:) but what secrects does this book contains :0.i hope this mystery will be solved !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    (there are 66 of these ! things for your calculations,don’t believe me?count them for yourself.that’s why they call me fun

  85. wordjunkie -  February 15, 2011 - 3:20 pm

    Maybe it is what Italian penmanship used to look like, before the times of digitalization and rushed shorthand.

  86. Ryan -  February 15, 2011 - 2:57 pm

    It’s probably at the same complexity level as the enigma code, the thing it, with the enigma code, we had a machine to decipher it for us.

  87. Toby P -  February 15, 2011 - 2:36 pm

    Take a look at what Mimi pointed to – http://www.edithsherwood.com/voynich_decoded/

    @ Christina M – the variation in the carbon dating given has a 40-year span. That means that they came up with an estimate and gave it 20 years either side to produce that span. Carbon dating is not a completely exact science as C-14 carbon never ages in precisely the same way. If Da Vinci was born in 1452, and wrote this at the age of 8 (and judging by his later work I believe a person of his acumen would be able to come up with something this detailed at that age and even devise a deceptive cypher), then it only takes a slight inaccuracy in the carbon dating to allow for this possibility. Even the handwriting looks like it could be Da Vinci.

  88. Jan -  February 15, 2011 - 2:33 pm

    interesting! :)

  89. Random XD -  February 15, 2011 - 1:48 pm

    You know that manuscript should be made public so that people can try and decipher it 4 themself and maybe the meaning of it will come out

  90. The LitSoc -  February 15, 2011 - 1:40 pm

    maybe it’s just a bunch of doodles? :P

  91. Jameson Madere -  February 15, 2011 - 1:28 pm

    I haven’t ever actually seen the writing, so I can’t give a very sensible theory, but, based on the little that I know about how people typically decipher codes, I think that it’s very possible for it to be its own language. Imagine an alien (someone from another region, be it on the planet or not) coming to an English-speaking country. It’s almost impossible for us to have the same language as them, so we have no way of communicating through manuscript. If someone devizes his or her own language without basing it off of any other language, then they have a virtually undecipherable cipher.

  92. Jvitchka -  February 15, 2011 - 12:48 pm

    Maybe the “words” aren’t important. Maybe there’s something else on the pages…hidden.

  93. Me -  February 15, 2011 - 12:47 pm

    Maybe the words are a cover up. Maybe there’s something else hidden and the words aren’t important.

  94. Code-a-phile -  February 15, 2011 - 12:28 pm

    I can feel a Dan Brown novel in the making! Move over, DaVinci Code.

  95. hatman -  February 15, 2011 - 12:19 pm

    this book looks very interesting i wonder what it says

  96. Scarlett -  February 15, 2011 - 12:13 pm

    PS – the ink dates to the early renaissance.

  97. Ooga Booga -  February 15, 2011 - 11:58 am

    All I can say is that it looks like very beautiful, eloquent penmanship. If only those pages could talk.

  98. Xray -  February 15, 2011 - 11:19 am

    I like the Alchemy idea, but I think the Freemason’s might have something behind this too. I’m feeling a conspiracy being hatched here.

  99. Small Potatoes -  February 15, 2011 - 10:54 am

    It IS possible Voynich wrote it (even though I don’t think he did). The vellum was carbon-dated not the ink. It is possible that he discovered a blank piece of vellum and wrote on it. Just had to play the devil’s advocate.

  100. AmateurCommenter-924 -  February 15, 2011 - 10:35 am

    It’s alchemy, watch: Herbal, to find the right herbs for instantly healing wounds; Astronomical, to find the coordinates for the nearest meteor landing so you can acquire rare substances*; Biological, to learn how to create life; Cosmological, to connect science with what we consider “magic”; Pharmaceutical, to suggest the right medication for an ill person; and Recipes, to learn how to combine herbs for maximum effect. All the systems here are used in the ancient study of alchemy.

    *What I meant for this was, back in their time, there were no science labs. So, they might have been able to acquire substances that are scarce by collecting meteor fragments.

    I know, it sounds dumb. But, I am just 13-years-old. So, please don’t be harsh. And, besides, it’s only theories. And that’s all we have. For now.

  101. Christina M. -  February 15, 2011 - 10:31 am

    The writing is around 1400 – 1440, so it probably wasn’t Da Vinci who wrote it; he was born in 1452. It was around the time of the Renaissance, so perhaps it was another potential alchemist who wrote the manuscript under the cover of a doctor’s manual.

  102. chriatina -  February 15, 2011 - 9:59 am

    this book come out so people can read it i would like two read this book really soon it really sound like a really good book two read

  103. chriatina -  February 15, 2011 - 9:56 am

    hey this is a good story bout this book everyone should read about this book

  104. AmateurCommenter-924 -  February 15, 2011 - 9:55 am

    It’s alchemy. Definitely alchemy.

  105. Toby P -  February 15, 2011 - 9:13 am

    If you look at the words, regardless of whether you recognise the gliffs or not, you can see that they are anagrams of old Italian, and the pictures relate to these words. In that way, it is simple to see that the Voynich manuscript is a form of reference book of the various objects that the artist found around them. The style and the genius involved points to a young Leonardo Da Vinci, as does the newly suggested time of creation that has just been atributed to it.

  106. Linc86 -  February 15, 2011 - 9:03 am

    Its the Elder Scrolls VI !

  107. Hugh Jorgan -  February 15, 2011 - 8:42 am

    It is my understanding that Nostradamus predicted that when “Voynick is deciphered” a great flood will occur “in the land of many people”.

  108. Anonymous -  February 15, 2011 - 7:59 am

    Aliens!! It’s ALIENS!!!! :O

  109. Ezekiel Rage -  February 15, 2011 - 7:58 am

    Personally, I’d go for the pharmacopoeia theory; today we have just as many undecipherable “manuscripts” with hidden messages on them of some apparent pharmacological value… the only difference is that nowadays we call them PRESCRIPTIONS.

  110. dkde -  February 15, 2011 - 7:58 am

    There is no possible way he could have written the book in the 1400s and then later “discovered” it in 1912

  111. Trisha -  February 15, 2011 - 7:29 am

    I reminds me of the runes left behind in Minnesota by the vikings who visited there in the 1200s. Some of them are encrypted too.

  112. Wrasfish -  February 15, 2011 - 7:26 am

    Years ago, I read about a new coffee-table book that was for sale at Christmastime. I understand it had intriguing pictures, and what looked like a text, but it was total nonsense.

    Still, in 1404, vellum was too expensive to have been used for a deliberate hoax.

  113. gen -  February 15, 2011 - 7:15 am

    How can it be Voynich who discovered it, if he didn’t find it until 1912, and, according to this, this manuscript was written between 1404 and 1438? Otherwise, it is quite an interesting read. I had not heard about this manuscript before, but hopefully it will be deciphered at one point and it will be of value to the world of medicine, as this article suggests. :)

  114. mark V -  February 15, 2011 - 7:12 am

    Know what i think it is? A Game.

    what will future civilizations think when they find our Dungeons and Dragons Monster manuals?
    How did they survive as long as they did with so many ancient horrors?
    Whys everything measured in “D”s?
    Why can’t WE shoot fireballs out of our eyes!?

  115. DIVVIE -  February 15, 2011 - 7:06 am

    WOW!! Not only am I the second to contribute to this interesting and informative blog, but I find it amazing that I had never heard of this fascinating work. Thank you dictionary.com for continuing to educate me

  116. Ian Mallett -  February 15, 2011 - 7:01 am

    Someone simply wanted to mess with future researchers? I’ve definitely left pieces of paper that are deliberately obtuse just to annoy anyone reading them later. Maybe if you had a lot of time in the late middle ages, and were bored one Saturday . . .

  117. Paramita -  February 15, 2011 - 7:00 am

    It was probably scrawled by a Doctor. lol

  118. samuel williams -  February 15, 2011 - 6:58 am

    i dont care

  119. Yoga-Sothoth -  February 15, 2011 - 6:56 am

    It is patently impossible that Voynich is the author. He would have to have planned to stymie Carbon-14 dating techniques which didn’t exist until some 30 years after he discovered the manuscript. I would suspect the cipher was an early means to retain proprietary knowledge by a small group. If deciphered, it will likely not so much lead us to uncharted medical territory as reflect medical wisdom that might have been advanced for the early 1400′s but not particularly useful in light of current medical advancement and will stand as an interesting relic of its day.

  120. Vejace Alexei -  February 15, 2011 - 6:53 am

    Wicked! Wish I would’ve discovered it.

  121. Kim -  February 15, 2011 - 6:50 am

    How could Voynich have written it? Is he 600 yrs old? Or have the researchers not be able to verify the age of ink, only the vellum… in that case Voynich writing it would be feasible. I guess the theorists are suggesting he found blank vellum (was it bound?) and wrote this crazy language on it for recognition and acclaim?

    • Karin Marie Olt -  February 22, 2016 - 5:20 pm

      I decoded the entire thing. The DaVinci twins wrote it. I have a book coming out soon. They came to me in a dream after I destroyed an original Mona Lisa from Ww2. Their work has not been in Vane.Thank-you,Karin

  122. Anonymous -  February 15, 2011 - 6:47 am


    Kidding, kidding…:)

  123. Ole TBoy -  February 15, 2011 - 6:39 am

    In the late 90′s Jodie Foster starred in a film called NELL. Her character, raised in the backwoods of North Carolina by an autistic mother, has her own language (idioglossia) and Liam Neeson and Natasha Richardson are speech scientists who spend the time of the film trying to crack her language and bring Nell into full contact with contemporary society. Take a look at Wikipedia for more detailed info.

  124. John Sparrow -  February 15, 2011 - 6:14 am

    As a lover of language, I enjoy being enlightened by something like this that I have never heard of. But how about an alien race? It might be possible, but I suspect that it will be something akin to what the writer of this article has postulated or hypothesized. Savvy?

  125. David E. -  February 15, 2011 - 4:40 am

    Where can I find this? I want to try my hand.

  126. Arnolda -  February 15, 2011 - 4:20 am

    Possibly if you accurately copied the text and put the entirety on line I am sure someone would recognize the originality if nothing else! And perhaps even decode the writing. Even put it on line as a contest or whatever, in a more of a public fashion and would draw more recognition.
    And solve the riddle!!

  127. Clark -  February 15, 2011 - 4:09 am

    Interesting. I wonder what all the ignorant critics will say about this post from the dictionary people.
    I’m assuming they’ve applied code breaking software to the piece right? That’s one thing that would be nice to know. Still, a good read. (The article not the Voynich.)

  128. john rhea -  February 15, 2011 - 3:35 am

    A Fried Bologna sandwich please. And a grape soda.

  129. Joanne -  February 15, 2011 - 2:59 am

    This is really interesting. I never new this exsisted

  130. B -  February 15, 2011 - 2:44 am

    cool, i would like to know what’s inside the manuscript

  131. Mistress of Darkness -  February 15, 2011 - 2:25 am

    Well, it could be one of those mysterious things discovered. And if it is true, then I could also say that people from ancient times are really intelligent. Unlike people nowadays who rely much on computers.

  132. mik -  February 15, 2011 - 2:17 am

    Oh my gosh! I so want to see this book! The puzzle of it must tie a cryptographers brain in knots. What a fabulous piece of history!

  133. LISA SHEARS -  February 15, 2011 - 1:51 am


  134. SJM -  February 15, 2011 - 12:16 am

    If scientists have successfully radiocarbon dated the manuscript, why do some still stick to the theory that Voynich himself wrote it? Conspiracies just love company.

    In any regard, it’s a fascinating relic.

  135. mwd -  February 14, 2011 - 11:30 pm

    It is a Players Handbook to a long forgotten role playing game.
    obscure images and indecipherable text. Once we find the core book to the system, all will be revealed :D

  136. piemarox on youtube -  February 14, 2011 - 11:21 pm

    check out piemarox on youtube while you are waiting for scientists to figure this out!

  137. only4cody on youtube -  February 14, 2011 - 11:20 pm

    This is kinda cool-ish. Is that even a word? idk. I hope this gets figured out, it could unlock a whole new world in history and a cool thing to do. It seems very interesting!

  138. Carl -  February 14, 2011 - 10:45 pm

    I’m not sure I understand… They have the cipher, the “key” to decoding the mysterious text in the manuscript. So why no translation?

  139. Gavin Spooky -  February 14, 2011 - 10:40 pm

    Sounds to me like this manuscript is a book of shadows.

  140. aktifistri -  February 14, 2011 - 10:11 pm

    Never heard anything about this Voynich Manuscript, but the mystery is always interesting to follow! ;) To me the idea of Idioglossia is another interesting stuff to learn more since my husband and I are sometimes create our own ‘language’ just for fun..

    Anyway, if the technology found the manuscript was composed between 1404-1438 and Mr. Voynich reveal the manuscripts in 1912, wouldn’t it be funny since the time he reveal the script and the composing time assumed are making about 400 years gap? Who lives that long? Unless the idea of Yoda-Starwars is really happening to human on this planet :)

    Anyway, wish there’ll be some other scientists and historian would appear with their enlightening knowledge to complete this valuable posting! :)

  141. aktifistri -  February 14, 2011 - 10:09 pm

    Never heard anything about this Voynich Manuscript, but the mystery is always interesting to follow! ;) To me the idea of Idioglossia is another interesting stuff to learn more since sometimes me and my husband try to create our own ‘language’ just for fun..

    Anyway, if the technology found the manuscript was composed between 1404-1438 and Mr. Voynich reveal the manuscripts in 1912, wouldn’t it be funny since the time he reveal the script and the composing time assumed are making about 400 years gap? Who lives that long? Unless the idea of Yoda-Starwars is really happening to human on this planet :)

    Anyway, wish there’ll be some other scientists and historian would appear with their enlightening knowledge to complete this valuable posting! :)

  142. Dave -  February 14, 2011 - 10:03 pm

    Given that Voynich discovered the manuscript in 1912 and radiocarbon dating concluded that the book was probably composed between 1404 and 1438 it would be rather difficult for Voynich to be the author… unless he a fair bit of spare time and 240 blank pieces of very old vellum lying around.

  143. TC -  February 14, 2011 - 9:39 pm

    My favorite theory is XKCD’s… it’s a fantasy RPG gaming manual. ;)

  144. DJB -  February 14, 2011 - 8:49 pm

    It’s an alien cookbook titled: “To Serve Man”

  145. Thomas -  February 14, 2011 - 8:45 pm

    I wrote the manuscript. Now you have the answer. OK Ok, I didn`t write it. There is a theory that DaVinci wrote it.

  146. Jack Cervantes -  February 14, 2011 - 8:08 pm

    Sounds like it’s related to Alchemy. Imagine the secrets it holds within it’s pages.

  147. A -  February 14, 2011 - 7:35 pm

    How interesting is this! :))


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