adjective sim·ple \ ˈsim-pəl \
Updated on: 9 Nov 2017

Definition of simple

simpler play \ˈsim-p(ə-)lər\; simplest play \ˈsim-p(ə-)ləst\
1 :free from guile :innocent
2 a :free from vanity :modest
b :free from ostentation or display
  • a simple outfit
3 :of humble origin or modest position
  • a simple farmer
4 a :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
5 a :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
7 a (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 3


play \ˈsim-pəl-nəs\ noun

Examples of simple in a Sentence

  1. The solution to the problem was relatively simple.

  2. The answer is really quite simple.

  3. There are three simple steps to follow.

  4. The camera is simple to use.

  5. Don't go into too much detail in the report. Just keep it simple and to the point.

  6. The melody is very simple.

  7. I'm a simple farmer just trying to make a living.

  8. He enjoys the simple pleasure of spending time with his wife and kids after work.

  9. Relaxing on the beach and watching the sunset is one of life's simple pleasures.

Recent Examples of simple from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of 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

Synonym Discussion of 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




Definition of simple

1 a :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
2 a :a medicinal plant
b :a vegetable drug having only one ingredient
3 :one component of a complex; specifically :an unanalyzable constituent

First Known Use of simple

14th century

SIMPLE Defined for English Language Learners



Definition of simple for English Language Learners

  • : not hard to understand or do

  • : having few parts : not complex or fancy

  • : not special or unusual

SIMPLE Defined for Kids


adjective sim·ple \ ˈsim-pəl \

Definition of simple for Students

simpler; simplest
1 :not hard to understand or solve
  • a simple task
2 :1easy 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

Medical Dictionary



adjective sim·ple \ ˈsim-pəl \

medical Definition of simple

simpler play \-p(ə-)lər\; simplest play \-p(ə-)ləst\
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

1 :a medicinal plant
2 :a vegetable drug having only one ingredient

Law Dictionary


adjective sim·ple

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



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