sim·​ple | \ ˈsim-pəl How to pronounce simple (audio) \
simpler\ ˈsim-​p(ə-​)lər How to pronounce simpler (audio) \; simplest\ ˈsim-​p(ə-​)ləst How to pronounce simplest (audio) \

Definition of simple

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : free from guile : innocent
2a : free from vanity : modest
b : free from ostentation or display a simple outfit
3 : of humble origin or modest position a simple farmer
4a : lacking in knowledge or expertise a simple amateur of the arts
b : lacking in intelligence : stupid
c : not socially or culturally sophisticated : naive also : credulous
5a : sheer, unmixed simple honesty
b : free of secondary complications a simple vitamin deficiency
c(1) : having only one main clause and no subordinate clauses a simple sentence
(2) of a subject or predicate : having no modifiers, complements, or objects
d : constituting a basic element : fundamental
e : not made up of many like units a simple eye
6 : free from elaboration or figuration simple harmony
7a(1) : not subdivided into branches or leaflets a simple stem a simple leaf
(2) : consisting of a single carpel
(3) : developing from a single ovary a simple fruit
b : controlled by a single gene simple inherited characters
8 : not limited or restricted : unconditional a simple obligation
9 : readily understood or performed simple directions the adjustment was simple to make
10 of a statistical hypothesis : specifying exact values for one or more statistical parameters — compare composite sense 3



Definition of simple (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : a person of humble birth : commoner thought very little of anybody, simples or gentry— Virginia Woolf
b(1) : a rude or credulous person : ignoramus
(2) : simpleton
2a : a medicinal plant
b : a vegetable drug having only one ingredient
3 : one component of a complex specifically : an unanalyzable constituent

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Other Words from simple


simpleness \ ˈsim-​pəl-​nəs How to pronounce simpleness (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for simple


simple, foolish, silly, fatuous, asinine mean actually or apparently deficient in intelligence. simple implies a degree of intelligence inadequate to cope with anything complex or involving mental effort. considered people simple who had trouble with computers foolish implies the character of being or seeming unable to use judgment, discretion, or good sense. foolish stunts silly suggests failure to act as a rational being especially by ridiculous behavior. the silly antics of revelers fatuous implies foolishness, inanity, and disregard of reality. fatuous conspiracy theories asinine suggests utter and contemptible failure to use normal rationality or perception. an asinine plot

synonyms see in addition easy

Examples of simple in a Sentence

Adjective The solution to the problem was relatively simple. The answer is really quite simple. There are three simple steps to follow. The camera is simple to use. Don't go into too much detail in the report. Just keep it simple and to the point. The melody is very simple. I'm a simple farmer just trying to make a living. He enjoys the simple pleasure of spending time with his wife and kids after work. Relaxing on the beach and watching the sunset is one of life's simple pleasures.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Hadid is currently pregnant with her first child with Malik, and as her due date approaches, the model left a simple yet effective message on Malik's shirtless pic. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Gigi Hadid Just Reacted to Zayn Malik's Shirtless Instagram Photo in the Best Way," 13 Sep. 2020 Getting out to vote isn't always a simple in-and-out, as any voter who has had to wait in line for over an hour knows. Abigail Rosenthal, Houston Chronicle, "Harris County implementing 24-hour polling locations for one day of early voting," 11 Sep. 2020 Turn Your Closet into an Office Party stylist Kelsey Klos, who lives in Petaluma, CA, with her husband and three daughters under 5, transformed a closet into a simple but vibrant workstation. Monique Valeris, Good Housekeeping, "Here's How to Design the Home Office of Your Dreams," 10 Sep. 2020 This magnetic whiteboard comes with four markers and is a simple and effective way to keep track of everything from grocery lists to household chores. Julianne Ross, CNN Underscored, "These are the 21 Amazon products we loved in August," 10 Sep. 2020 Surveys of people around the world, as well as social science research on denial, suggest the answer to this question is more nuanced than a simple yes or no. Adrian Bardon, The Conversation, "Faith and politics mix to drive evangelical Christians’ climate change denial," 9 Sep. 2020 Such simple but incorrect narratives abound in science folklore and textbooks. Mano Singham, Scientific American, "The Idea that a Scientific Theory can be 'Falsified' Is a Myth," 7 Sep. 2020 Ayelle has a simple but effective solution to the anxiety that comes along with the hustle and bustle: self-care. Jordan Williams,, "New Music To Know: Slowing It All The Way Down," 7 Sep. 2020 Just before kick-off against the Minnesota Vikings, Cuenca added a simple, but defining touch: a clown nose. Sarah Ravits,, "Dome from home: How Saints superfans are handling the upcoming season," 7 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The wide-slide closure makes refilling simple, and the drinking tube can be disconnected from the reservoir by pushing a button at the connecting joint. Popular Science, "Hydration bladders for outdoor adventures," 1 Sep. 2020 But if Woods keeps his defense simple for Delpit then that benefits Phillips. cleveland, "What to expect from the Browns 2020 rookies: reviewing the film," 13 Aug. 2020 The popular messaging tool makes instant communication across a company simple—one reason its usage has surged during the pandemic.... Chip Cutter And Aaron Tilley, WSJ, "Slack Has Made Remote Office Communication Easier. It Can Also Be Less Civil.," 20 Aug. 2020 Rossi’s Matched Pair requires no tools to change barrels, making switching from rifle to shotgun in the field or at the range simple. Joseph Albanese, Field & Stream, "The 9 Best Single-Shot Rifles and Shotguns for Any Budget," 14 Aug. 2020 The tailgate incorporates a few simple, work-friendly changes. cleveland, "2021 Ford F-150 features and tech aim to delight owners and stump the competition," 4 July 2020 For a sandwich this simple, there is one very important rule. Meredith Deeds Special To The Star Tribune, Star Tribune, "For the perfect BLT, head to the farmers market for ingredients," 29 July 2020 The tailgate incorporates a few simple, work-friendly changes. cleveland, "2021 Ford F-150 features and tech aim to delight owners and stump the competition," 4 July 2020 Try this simple, but very complex nail look by @revlon. Emy Rodriguez Flores, Redbook, "15 Beauty Looks to Wear For New Year's Eve," 9 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'simple.' 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 simple


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for simple


Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin simplus, alteration of Latin simplic-, simplex single, having one ingredient, plain, from sem-, sim- one + -plic-, -plex -fold — more at same, -fold

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Time Traveler for simple

Time Traveler

The first known use of simple was in the 13th century

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Statistics for simple

Last Updated

17 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Simple.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for simple


How to pronounce simple (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of simple

: not hard to understand or do
: having few parts : not complex or fancy
: not special or unusual


sim·​ple | \ ˈsim-pəl How to pronounce simple (audio) \
simpler; simplest

Kids Definition of simple

1 : not hard to understand or solve a simple task
2 : easy entry 1 sense 1, straightforward a simple explanation
3 : lacking in education, experience, or intelligence The queen was really a simple soul and always … had done nothing except state the overly obvious.— Kate DiCamillo, The Tale of Despereaux
4 : not complex or fancy She wore simple clothing.
6 : not rich or important simple folk
7 : without qualification : sheer the simple truth


sim·​ple | \ ˈsim-pəl How to pronounce simple (audio) \
simpler\ -​p(ə-​)lər How to pronounce simpler (audio) \; simplest\ -​p(ə-​)ləst How to pronounce simplest (audio) \

Medical Definition of simple

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : free from complexity or difficulty: as
a : easily treated or cured a simple vitamin deficiency
b : controlled by a single gene simple inherited characters
2 : of, relating to, or being an epithelium in which the cells are arranged in a single layer



Medical Definition of simple (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a medicinal plant
2 : a vegetable drug having only one ingredient

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Legal Definition of simple

1 : oral or written but not under seal or of record
2 : not extreme, aggravated, or complicated simple kidnapping
3 : having no limitations or restrictions — see also fee simple

Other Words from simple

simply adverb

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Comments on simple

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