Meredith Knox Gardner (born 12 (or 20 ) October 1912 in Okolona, Mississippi; † 9 August 2002 in Chevy Chase, Maryland) was an American linguist and code breaker, the one of the greatest intelligence coups of the 20th century came when he decrypted Soviet intelligence on espionage in the United States as part of the Venona project.
Gardner grew up in Austin (Texas ). After a first degree at the local University of Texas, he earned a master's degree in German at the University of Wisconsin at Madison; there he worked as a research assistant from 1938 to 1940. As a professor of linguistics at the University of Akron, he was recruited by the Signals Intelligence Service of the U.S. Army to crack the codes of Nazi Germany. Soon after, he began instead to work on the code of the Japanese Empire and learned in just a few months the Japanese language.
Gardner went into retirement in 1972; his work remained secret until 1996, the NSA, the CIA and the Center for Democracy him and his colleagues honored at the initiative of U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan with a celebration.
Being retired he and his wife taught Latin and regularly broke the crossword puzzle of the London Times. Gardner died at the age of 89 years.