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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Rest assured the recipes below only seem complex, but are simple enough for anyone to understand. Talia Abbas, SELF, "How to Throw a Laid-Back Holiday Party at Home, from the Team at A Summer Day Cafe," 6 Dec. 2018 The Legislature can put this on the 2019 ballot by passing it with a simple majority two years in a row. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Gerrymandering a State Constitution," 3 Dec. 2018 There also is a pretty simple explanation of how the spark plug ended up inside the formation. Erik Lacitis, The Seattle Times, "Proof of alien visitors? Artifact from an ancient civilization? The truth is out there — in Seattle," 1 Dec. 2018 The first problem is the simple loss of the biodiversity around us, on which wild ecosystems depend. Rob Dunn, Discover Magazine, "Our Attempts to Eradicate Insects are Just Making them Resistant to Pesticides," 16 Nov. 2018 There are tons of characters and amusingly ye-olde location names but a fairly simple plot strings them all together. Taylor Antrim, Vogue, "The Last Kingdom," 21 Nov. 2018 For her first ensemble in the country, Meghan chose to wear a plaid trench by Karen Walker over a simple black dress. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Meghan Markle Just Arrived in New Zealand Wearing a Plaid Trench and a Poppy Pin," 27 Oct. 2018 Of course, that doesn't mean everything is going to be easy and simple. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'Grey’s Anatomy' Fans Will Not Be Able to Handle What Kim Raver Just Spilled About Teddy," 25 Oct. 2018 Yet no physicist in the 19th century could explain this seemingly simple process. Tim Folger, Discover Magazine, "How Quantum Mechanics Lets Us See, Smell and Touch," 24 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Her jewelry is simple: a delicate cross celebrating her cultural background and her family’s dedication to church. Fawnia Soo Hoo, Glamour, "The Costumes in Widows Mirror Each Woman’s Journey," 15 Nov. 2018 The reason for this disconnect is simple: Few TV shows or movies actually film in Washington. Ashraf Khalil, The Seattle Times, "Anywhere but Washington: Why DC stories rarely film in DC," 23 Oct. 2018 The result is a simple gabled frame that’s punched up with trendy black corrugated metal siding. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Chic black chalet does cabin in the woods right," 9 Nov. 2018 The answer, as Gigi Hadid so aptly put it, is simple: Vote. Zoë Weiner, Teen Vogue, "Gigi Hadid Wore a “Vote" Tee to Her Victoria's Secret Fashion Show Fittings," 5 Nov. 2018 Ezra Callahan: The product at Facebook at the time is dead simple: profiles. Adam Fisher, WIRED, "Sex, Beer, and Coding: Inside Facebook’s Wild Early Days," 10 July 2018 To do that is pretty simple: Eat regularly throughout the day. Paul C. Brunson, USA TODAY, "Paul C. Brunson: These 3 books are the best ever written on self-control and willpower," 5 July 2018 Arendt’s message was soberingly simple: Targeting a vulnerable group is the start of unraveling processes that bring greater and far-reaching ruin. Amro Ali, Time, "Denmark’s “Ghetto” Policies Are an Ominous Sign That Liberal Europe Is Starting to Unravel at the Seams," 3 July 2018 Now MadBum is back, fully recovered from the bike-spill injuries and from a broken hand in spring training, and his challenge is simple: Return himself and his team to previous glory. Scott Ostler,, "Bumgarner’s back, bringing new life to Giants," 27 June 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about simple

Statistics for simple

Last Updated

9 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for simple

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more



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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on simple

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with simple

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for simple

Spanish Central: Translation of simple

Nglish: Translation of simple for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of simple for Arabic Speakers

Comments on simple

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


a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!