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

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
oversimplification noun

Examples of oversimplify in a Sentence

The article oversimplifies the problem. She tends to oversimplify things. We must resist the temptation to oversimplify.
Recent Examples on the Web Their involvement in the health care landscape has broad implications, and blaming the escalating costs of life-saving medications solely on the pharmaceutical industry’s pricing strategies oversimplifies a complex issue. Robert Levin, Sun Sentinel, 7 Jan. 2024 Steeped in Eastern religion via his guru Meher Baba, Townshend attempted to marry the musical and spiritual ambitions of the late ‘60s into a project that (to vastly oversimplify) revolved around the concept that a human being’s spirit could be articulated in a musical note or series of notes. Jem Aswad, Variety, 15 Sep. 2023 Neither oversimplifies the issues at hand, just as neither artist wavers from the belief in the rightness of the decisions their respective characters make. William Nash, The Conversation, 29 Aug. 2023 But in his view—and that of several dealers who spoke to Robb Report—the issue of repatriation can be oversimplified and taken to foolish extremes. Julie Belcove, Robb Report, 5 Aug. 2023 But as troubling as the book’s family secrets are, the dynamics are too boiled down and oversimplified in the end. Jeffrey Ann Goudie, BostonGlobe.com, 22 June 2023 Australian climate researchers say the post fundamentally errs in oversimplifying the process by which plants intake and release carbon dioxide. Isabella Fertel, USA TODAY, 26 July 2023 While many applications today are oversimplified or misinterpreted, the theory builds upon decades of rigorous research in the field of psychology. Tree Meinch, Discover Magazine, 11 Apr. 2023 At the risk of grossly oversimplifying things, most EU rules and regulations still apply within Northern Ireland but nowhere else within the United Kingdom, allowing free movement across the land border—but not entirely across the sea border. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 14 June 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'oversimplify.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1897, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of oversimplify was in 1897

Dictionary Entries Near oversimplify

Cite this Entry

“Oversimplify.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oversimplify. Accessed 25 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


over·​sim·​pli·​fy ˌō-vər-ˈsim-plə-ˌfī How to pronounce oversimplify (audio)
: to simplify something so much that the result is confusing, misleading, or wrong
oversimplification noun

More from Merriam-Webster on oversimplify

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