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 Her reaction to possible distractions from social media is simple, and seems highly effective. Gerald Imray, ajc, 28 July 2021 Her reaction to possible distractions from social media is simple, and seems highly effective. Gerald Imray, Star Tribune, 28 July 2021 Because the Saronic Gulf islands are so close to Athens, getting here is simple: A hydrofoil from the port of Piraeus ferries you from Athens to each of these destinations. Eleni N. Gage, Travel + Leisure, 27 July 2021 The journey to unity has not been simple, said Lynn, 26. Kalley Huang, Dallas News, 26 July 2021 Like any form of automation, the promises are simple: Robots can do more work faster, and the money and time saved can be used on something else. Matt Pearce, Los Angeles Times, 26 July 2021 Like the all-new compact Rogue SUV also introduced this year, Pathfinder’s design is simple. Tribune News Service, cleveland, 24 July 2021 Although the problem is complex, simple steps — such as multifactor authentication and educating employees to scrutinize suspicious emails — can reduce the chance of becoming a victim, cybersecurity experts said. Kate Santich,, 23 July 2021 Follow these four simple steps from start t0 finish to preserve the color and quality of your favorite silks and remove stains from them where necessary. Taylor Ayers, Marie Claire, 14 July 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Sporting a super-bright oversized jacket from Ukrainian label Gasanova, Shayk kept the rest of her ensemble simple, opting for a second-skin little black slipdress from SKIMS. Shelby Ying Hyde, Harper's BAZAAR, 3 May 2021 Utilizing a salad spinner takes all the hassle out of the process and makes serving your clean salad simple. Chris Hachey, BGR, 28 June 2021 This 20-piece non-stick pan set looks great in any kitchen, and makes cooking Sunday dinner simple. Taylor Lane, Southern Living, 22 June 2021 Daily Harvest makes eating vegan and gluten-free simple with smoothies that come ready-to-blend, and daily meals like soups, bowls, and flatbreads. Dobrina Zhekova, Travel + Leisure, 11 June 2021 Watchers carry cameras ranging from the simple to the extravagant. Jesse Leavenworth,, 11 May 2021 Keep the rest of the outfit simple with classic stiletto sandals, a square clutch, and a riviere necklace. Marykate Boylan, Town & Country, 21 May 2021 Its legacy is by no means simple: Like capitalism itself, the firm exhibited a panoply of virtues and not a few vices. Zachary Karabell, WSJ, 14 May 2021 Bri kept the decor simple with the same bed frames (a queen with a headboard for him, a twin for her), sheets, and pillowcases. Sarah Halverson, Better Homes & Gardens, 4 May 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near simple



simple beam

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Last Updated

1 Aug 2021

Cite this Entry

“Simple.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Aug. 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

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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