sim·ple | \ˈsim-pəl \
simpler\ˈsim-p(ə-)lər \; simplest\ˈsim-p(ə-)ləst \

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(1) : stupid

(2) : mentally retarded

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) : a mentally retarded person

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 \ 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


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

But as Beckham has learned throughout his journey over the last four-and-a-half years of trying to launch an MLS team, nothing is simple. Jordan Mcpherson, miamiherald, "David Beckham’s saw first-hand the mixed emotions about his proposed Miami MLS plan," 12 July 2018 Compiling a clear picture of Georgia’s compliance with the new law has, thus far, not been simple. Tyler Estep, ajc, "Hands-free law forcing Georgia drivers to kick phone habit," 5 July 2018 One of the simplest and cleverest barrier methods survived the centuries to become fodder for an iconic Seinfeld scene. Carolyn Todd, Allure, "The History and Evolution of Birth Control in America," 12 July 2018 Fortunately, the answer is quite simple and much less devastating for fans who may have thought the show had been unfairly snubbed. Henry Youtt, Billboard, "Why 'Pose' Didn't Receive Any Emmy Award Nominations," 12 July 2018 Boosting the low-yield arsenal is one of the cheaper and simpler of the practical steps laid out in America’s Nuclear Posture Review, published in February. The Economist, "What Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin ought to talk about in Helsinki," 12 July 2018 The conventional wisdom is that struggling small towns should appeal to a nostalgic time when America was more conservative, more Christian and simpler – not stranger. Joseph P. Laycock, Smithsonian, "A Search for Mysteries and Monsters in Small Town America," 11 July 2018 Speaking of Social Security, understanding all the nuances here is anything but simple. Marianne Hayes, Redbook, "How Much Money Do You Really Need to Retire?," 9 July 2018 The hope, for a small but dedicated community of researchers, is to use the quirky but simpler world of two-dimensional fluids as a fresh entry point into processes that have otherwise proved impenetrably messy. Joshua Sokol, WIRED, "Flattened Fluids Help Scientists Understand Oceans and Atmospheres," 7 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

After leading Eastern Conference teams to the NBA Finals for eight straight seasons, the formula is simple: Surround James with 3-point shooting and winning follows. Vince Ellis, Detroit Free Press, "Why Michigan's Moritz Wagner might be perfect fit for Lakers, LeBron James," 12 July 2018 Their vision is simple: Approach each piece like a sculpture, without a fixed plan in mind. Kaitlin Phillips, Vogue, "Green River Project LLC Debuts Elegant, Lounge-Ready Furniture Alongside Bode’s Menswear," 11 July 2018 Well, everything with Mikal is real simple because his mom and dad are great people. Rob Mahoney,, "Breakaway: Inside the Life of Future Lottery Pick Mikal Bridges," 15 June 2018 While Meghan Markle's neckline was a bit wider than Angela's, both women kept their jewelry simple and accessorized with tiaras worn far back on their heads, flowing veils, and their hair pulled into low buns. Lyndsey Matthews, Town & Country, "Was Meghan Markle’s Wedding Dress a Nod to Princess Angela of Liechtenstein?," 23 May 2018 At the end, a simple thank you for your time is offered on behalf of the grand jury. Evan Perez, CNN, "Hot Pockets, mismatched chairs and a critical mission: Inside year one of the Mueller investigation," 17 May 2018 The court said Monday that the name change will be accomplished through a simple and free procedure. Fox News, "Costa Rican court issues decision on gender identity," 14 May 2018 Singer and songwriter Jackson Browne did the simple and moving thing of putting a story into song. John Adamian,, "Jackson Browne Coming To The Oakdale," 5 May 2018 The Federalist Party has but two goals, at once simple and colossal: 1) the eventual reestablishment of government jurisdictions as prescribed in the Constitution and 2) congressional term limits, the latter integral to achieving the former. William F. B. O'reilly, National Review, "With Fealty to Frailty, the Federalist Party of America Launches," 15 Feb. 2018

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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Statistics for simple

Last Updated

14 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for simple

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

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More Definitions for simple



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 \
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 \
simpler\-p(ə-)lər \; simplest\-p(ə-)ləst \

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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