over·​sim·​pli·​fy | \ ˌō-vər-ˈsim-plə-ˌfī How to pronounce oversimplify (audio) \
oversimplified; oversimplifying; oversimplifies

Definition of oversimplify

transitive verb

: to simplify to such an extent as to bring about distortion, misunderstanding, or error

intransitive verb

: to engage in undue or extreme simplification

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Other Words from oversimplify

oversimplification \ ˌō-​vər-​ˌsim-​plə-​fə-​ˈkā-​shən How to pronounce oversimplification (audio) \ noun

Examples of oversimplify in a Sentence

The article oversimplifies the problem. She tends to oversimplify things. We must resist the temptation to oversimplify.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Given the staggering complexity of the problem and the tendency of politics to oversimplify, the breadth of positions was commendable. Wired, "CNN's Town Hall Made Climate Change Personal—and It Worked," 5 Sep. 2019 Such comparisons not only oversimplify Native identity but also contradict the biblical narrative itself, which recounts bloody wars fought by the Israelites against groups who preceded them in the land of milk and honey. Rachel Poser, Harper's magazine, "Common Ground," 19 Aug. 2019 The author-illustrator team distills the commission’s 500-plus pages into a slim, lucid volume that in no way dumbs down or oversimplifies the findings. George Gene Gustines, BostonGlobe.com, "Ernie Colón, 88, comic book artist who drew 9/11," 17 Aug. 2019 In writing her book, Shark Attacks: Myths, Misunderstandings and Human Fear, Chapman found that the human brain tends to oversimplify numbers. Elaina Zachos, National Geographic, "Why are we afraid of sharks? There's a scientific explanation.," 27 June 2019 Johnson believes that oversimplifies the complex conditions that contribute to criminal behavior. Roy S. Johnson | Rjohnson@al.com, al.com, "Inside Birmingham’s Peace & Policy strategy: Will it stem the violence?," 24 July 2019 The trick is doing so without overburdening him or oversimplifying the offense in the process. Rob Mahoney, SI.com, "Why the Pairing of Russell Westbrook and James Harden Won’t Be a Simple Fit," 12 July 2019 But almost as insidious are those politicians and pundits who oversimplify history. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, "1998 Was a Seinfeld Election—Not an Impeachment Referendum," 6 June 2019 Other analyses of teacher salaries tend to use a single measure of pay: usually starting teacher salaries or median pay, both of which oversimplify the issue. USA Today, "'Can't pay their bills with love': For many teaching jobs, teachers' pay can't cover rent," 5 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'oversimplify.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of oversimplify

1897, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

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Statistics for oversimplify

Last Updated

11 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for oversimplify

The first known use of oversimplify was in 1897

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More Definitions for oversimplify



English Language Learners Definition of oversimplify

: to describe (something) in a way that does not include all the facts and details and that causes misunderstanding


over·​sim·​pli·​fy | \ ˌō-vər-ˈsim-plə-ˌfī How to pronounce oversimplify (audio) \
oversimplified; oversimplifying

Kids Definition of oversimplify

: to cause (something) to seem simpler than it is He oversimplified a complicated problem.

More from Merriam-Webster on oversimplify

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with oversimplify

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for oversimplify

Nglish: Translation of oversimplify for Spanish Speakers

Comments on oversimplify

What made you want to look up oversimplify? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


authorized for issue (as a bond)

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