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

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Sometimes, a seemingly simple question can captivate the entire Internet. Jacob Livesay, USA TODAY, 28 July 2022 Voluntary benefits can be a simple and cost-effective way for businesses of all sizes and budgets to appeal to these desires and remain competitive in the race for top talent. The Salt Lake Tribune, 26 July 2022 Nutrition researcher Marion Nestle likes to ask a simple question: Who would gain if people weighed less and ate more healthfully? USA Today, 26 July 2022 As Gen Z grows in percentage within the industry, analysts are expecting to see an overall compression among all beauty categories, reflecting a favor in simple but effective routines. Alena Botros, Fortune, 24 July 2022 Keep it simple in the autumn season (and all year long) with Feuguia 1833's single note fragrance. April Franzino, Good Housekeeping, 22 July 2022 The cards are color-coded to help keep things simple. Aaron Zimmerman, Ars Technica, 22 July 2022 To keep things simple, all Dakota ragtops will be equipped with the Dakota line's Sport package. Rich Ceppos, Car and Driver, 20 July 2022 The Good News: Keep it simple — have faith in God and live an honest, good life. Elizabeth Berry, Woman's Day, 11 July 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Apps like Roadtrippers and RV Life Trip Wizard make that last part simple, enabling you to plot your route based on dozens of waypoint categories (like camping, restaurants, and outdoor activities) and how much driving you’d like to do per day. Outside Online, 12 July 2022 If the Fed can decree credit free as the simple in our midst routinely claim, why do Valley startups routinely hand over large equity positions to venture capitalists in return for cash? John Tamny, Forbes, 22 May 2022 To achieve this texture, there are a few simple, but essential tips to follow. Robin Miller, The Arizona Republic, 17 June 2022 Any bookworm will adore this simple, yet sweet, gift. Elizabeth Berry, Woman's Day, 3 June 2022 In an effort to be more gentle with her skin, Brooke Shields’s beauty routine pairs simple, yet effective formulas with high-tech, such as the Droplette Microinfusion Device. Kiana Murden, Vogue, 25 Mar. 2022 The station’s route map was easy to read and the departure times were displayed clearly on each train, making this leg of our journey simple to navigate. Kaitlyn Bancroft, The Salt Lake Tribune, 28 Apr. 2022 With stores all over the country and a successful e-commerce site that ships nationwide, Venus ET Fleur makes gift-giving simple for all. Lanae Brody,, 6 May 2022 Enter this easy-to-carry and simple-to-use relief machine. Editors Of Men's Health, Men's Health, 4 May 2022 See More

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.

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

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

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Dictionary Entries Near simple



simple beam

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Last Updated

1 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Simple.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for simple


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



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

More from Merriam-Webster on simple

Nglish: Translation of simple for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of simple for Arabic Speakers


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