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

The calculus that led to Kemp’s departure from Los Angeles was simple: five outfielders, three starting spots. Jon Tayler,, "Matt Kemp Shed Weight, Ego and Injury to Thrive for the Club He Never Wanted to Leave," 4 July 2018 Still, his task will be simple compared to Gretzky’s job as an ambassador and salesman for a largely strange game. Helene Elliott,, "The Great One and The King: Two transcendent athletes changing L.A. landscape 30 years apart," 3 July 2018 Ann deserves a better life, a simpler life and one of normalcy. Nina Metz,, "‘Claws’ Episode 4 recap: 5 things to know about ‘Scream’ and Quiet Ann finding her voice," 1 July 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 The logic was pretty simple: Once overtime pay was factored in, wages for guides were going to double or triple with the new requirements, and outfitters wouldn’t be able to handle the cost. Jake Bullinger, Outside Online, "Trump Cut Wages for Outdoor Guides—and That's Fine," 11 June 2018 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

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

11 Nov 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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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).


playful or foolish behavior

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