Let say I have the following message:

Lets meet in front of the hall at morning.

From that I construct this message by applying antonym substitution:

Lets meet behind the hall at evening.

So "in front of" has been replaced with "behind" and "morning" with "evening". Is this scheme considered as text or linguistic steganography?

  • What you want to say? please ask a clear question.You are talking about steganography and not using image in context? Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 11:19
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    @TAHASULTANTEMURI Steganography does not have to involve images. Steganography is the art of hiding messages. Messages can be hidden in images, but there are other ways too. Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 11:22

3 Answers 3


This is a substitution, not steganography. One of the key goals of steganography is deniability. In information security, deniability is a property which allows denial that information exists or that an action took place. While the meaning of the message is somewhat disguised in your scheme, the presence of the general message is not. Steganography is concerned with building a hidden channel which prevents detection of a message being exchanged covertly within an innocent and unrelated communication.

An early simple example might be the book dot cipher where small dots were placed on letters in a book to turn the book itself in to a message. This primitive approach was not completely hidden, but at a casual glance, it would just look like someone who had a book, it doesn't appear to be any special communication.

To have a linguistic steganography, you would need to encode the information such that a seemingly normal conversation would actually convey some other information. In your example, it is clear that you are talking about a meeting at some time, so the message, while the details are altered, is not hidden.

A better example of an extremely primitive linguistic steganography would be to have the time of day of a phone call encode some information, or perhaps have values assigned to different items to have for dinner. If you called to ask when the chicken would be done cooking, that could mean that you needed to meet up later at a drop point. The actual message is completely concealed by what appears to be a legitimate communication.

Borrowing from Steffen's excellent answer, it seems you may be getting confused by the concept of "synonym substitution" which is a common basic form of linguistic steganography. With synonym substitution, words are replaced with their synonyms to encode information based on if the word changes or not. This could either be through a simple binary encoding or a more complex code word system, but the key thing is that the message being sent is unrelated to the message it appears in. The message that is apparently being sent must be deniable that any hidden meaning exists.

Now, in theory, you could use antonyms instead of synonyms for the substitution used to encode the information, but this runs in to a problem. Synonym substitution works because the paraphrase will make sense and seem like a reasonable paraphrase or mis-remembering of a known quote. If you instead start throwing in antonyms it becomes much easier to tell something odd is going on. Since it looks odd, the deniability is greatly reduced and the message is much more likely to draw the attention of code breakers. This renders antonym substitution to be a relatively poor means of encoding steganographic information as well.

  • so, if i apply the antonym substitution, then change it into bit, lastly encode into another message as cover, so it meet steganography requirement?
    – zam
    Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 18:30
  • @zam I'm not sure what you mean. Substitution has nothing to do with steganography. Substitution is a means of obfuscating meaning, steganography is a means of hiding a message. The two are completely unrelated. Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 19:57
  • i just want to apply antonym substitution on text/linguistic steganography so it can be more secure
    – zam
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 1:50
  • Antonym substitution is not going to provide any meaningful security. It's far too easy to break with minimal effort. Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 3:27
  • so, is it possible to apply antonym substitution on text/linguistic steganograpy in selected text as objection to manipulated the meaning of secret message?
    – zam
    Commented Oct 21, 2017 at 2:38

It is not fully clear what the steganography part is in your question because you don't specify how the message gets encoded this way, i.e. you say what input and output is but not what the message you want to transfer.

A simple interpretation of your question would be that "Lets meet in front of the hall at morning." is what you actually want to say and you say this by replacing the meaning of some words. I don't think this is considered steganography but instead this is more a simple (word-based) substitution cipher. From Wikipedia:Steganography:

Steganography ... is the practice of concealing a file, message, image, or video within another file, message, image, or video. ...steganography is concerned with concealing the fact that a secret message is being sent as well as concealing the contents of the message.

Linguistic Steganography would be instead of you have an original text of "Winter is coming" and replace it with "Spring is going" to encode the message "101" (i.e. first word changed, second not, third changed again).

  • I'd call it a code. Maybe I'm nitpicking, but I think to qualify as a cipher, every word should be replaced. Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 11:21
  • is it still not qualify as cipher although it change the actual meaning of the message?
    – zam
    Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 18:34
  • Steganography is not a cipher, nor is it supposed to be.
    – forgetful
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 6:08

Linguistic steganography is hiding some information within text by subisituiting words for other words while maintaining normal language grammer so as to read as well as the original text. In your example this is the case so I would say Linguistic.

  • yes, all steganography must be seen naturally, thats why i think about this
    – zam
    Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 18:32
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    This fails to conceal a message though. The message, even if ciphered, is not actually concealed as being a message. Due to this, the example given fails to be steganography. Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 3:29
  • @AJHenderson This does not fail Linguistic Steganography and is perfectly within the academic scopes of its definition.
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 10:25
  • It has to hide the message within a non hidden message. The message is not hidden though. The details are changed a bit but the message is still clear that they are meeting. It provides no deniability which is a key aspect of steganography. If we change it from a meeting to a surprise attack, the problem becomes more obvious. Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 13:00

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