sim·​ple | \ ˈsim-pəl How to pronounce simple (audio) \
simpler\ ˈsim-​p(ə-​)lər How to pronounce simple (audio) \; simplest\ ˈsim-​p(ə-​)ləst How to pronounce simple (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 simple (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 The lesson is simple: The GOP only trusts mail voting in places where the party is good at it. Gilbert Garcia, San Antonio Express-News, "Garcia: GOP feeds the Big Lie with systematic voter suppression," 31 Mar. 2021 Kaprelian’s thinking is simple: If label employees are entitled to many of these services, why aren’t artists? Tatiana Cirisano, Billboard, "Nvak Collective Label Gives Artists Healthcare, Master Ownership: 'There's No Excuse'," 31 Mar. 2021 Our community guidelines are simple: be respectful and constructive, keep on topic, support your fellow commenters, and report bad behavior. Christopher Null, Wired, "The Best Home Weather Stations," 30 Mar. 2021 This is simple in theory but problematic in practice. Peter Hovstadius, STAT, "Lessons from Nordic countries can accelerate the impact of AI in medicine," 30 Mar. 2021 The top reason for this difference, Hirschfield wrote in an article explaining his findings, is simple: guns. Catesby Holmes, The Conversation, "Derek Chauvin trial begins in George Floyd murder case: 5 essential reads on police violence against Black men," 29 Mar. 2021 The principles were simple: If you get lost, stay put — hug a tree — until help arrives. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Boy’s death on Palomar Mountain led to wilderness survival program that endures," 29 Mar. 2021 The formula has been simple all year for Houston under Kelvin Sampson: play with toughness, get after teams defensively and go to work on the glass. Tim Bielik, cleveland, "Houston vs. Oregon State free live stream (3/29/21): How to watch, odds | NCAA Tournament 2021, Elite Eight," 29 Mar. 2021 The formula has been simple all year for Houston under Kelvin Sampson: play with toughness, get after teams defensively and go to work on the glass. Mark Heim |, al, "Houston-Oregon State live stream (3/29): How to watch March Madness’ Elite Eight online, TV, time," 29 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But all the pivoting, planning, foresight, expanding and crystal-ball gazing comes down to one simple, age-old thing, Doody said. Marc Bona, cleveland, "How some Cleveland restaurant owners have embraced growth during pandemic," 18 Mar. 2021 And even if Assault Breaker II works against current Russian and Chinese forces, there’s a simple—if not cheap—way for both Moscow and Beijing to overcome it, the board explained. David Axe, Forbes, "Pentagon Scientists Mull A Big Problem—How To Destroy A Whole Lot Of Chinese Ships And Russian Tanks, And Fast," 9 Mar. 2021 For Habibi-Likio, his decision came down to one simple, yet all-important reality. oregonlive, "Cyrus Habibi-Likio’s conundrum: Former Oregon Ducks running back’s decision to transfer was ‘super tough’," 27 Feb. 2021 Lenker kept the performance simple, strumming an acoustic guitar alone in front of a wall of windows. Brenna Ehrlich, Rolling Stone, "Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker Brings ‘Dragon Eyes’ to Late Night Ahead of Grammys," 12 Mar. 2021 With a basic lineup of security cameras, video doorbells, smart plugs, and lights (with some variation in each group), all controlled by a singular app, the company is hoping to make smart home integration simple. Gear Team, Wired, "CES 2021 Highlights: 79 Gadgets and Glimpses Into the Future," 14 Jan. 2021 Designed for entertaining, the living room may have a lot of space, but the point was to keep the decor simple so that all eyes would be on the gaping windows. Nikhita Mahtani, House Beautiful, "An Eclectic Minimalist Home by Ahmad AbouZanat That Highlights Its Sweeping Views," 5 Mar. 2021 The wine starts off simple and fruity, but develops woodsy, floral and spice notes with time in the glass. Washington Post, "The top 12 wine bargains of 2020 include an outstanding boxed malbec for the equivalent of $5 a bottle," 23 Dec. 2020 It’s a super simple set up that involves only two cords and a quick remote connection. Jacob Krol, CNN Underscored, "The best tech worth shopping this Cyber Monday," 30 Nov. 2020

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

3 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Simple.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Apr. 2021.

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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 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 simple (audio) \; simplest\ -​p(ə-​)ləst How to pronounce simple (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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