sim·​ple | \ ˈsim-pəl How to pronounce simple (audio) \
simpler\ ˈsim-​p(ə-​)lər How to pronounce simpler (audio) \; simplest\ ˈsim-​p(ə-​)ləst How to pronounce simplest (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 simpleness (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 idea was simple: Pit two of the biggest names in music against each other on Instagram Live for a friendly head-to-head battle. Amir Vera, CNN, "'Verzuz' has everyone flocking to Instagram. Here's why the weekly battles are such a hit," 23 May 2020 Instead, the complaint from pro-establishment types is simpler. The Economist, "Chaguan Educational freedom is under assault in Hong Kong," 23 May 2020 The measure, invented 17 years ago by a Bain consultant, is deceptively simple. Katherine Dunn, Fortune, "CEOs’ favorite metric could be described as a ‘religion’," 21 May 2020 The process is simple: State and local health departments keep track of who has received a test in their region and then provide the information to dispatch centers. Kimberlee Kruesi, Anchorage Daily News, "COVID-19 data sharing with law enforcement sparks concern," 20 May 2020 That would have been relatively simple to fix according to the response plan, which assumed every worker was in a central location such as the office. James Rundle, WSJ, "Cyber Insurers Get Tough on Risk Assessments Amid Coronavirus Pandemic," 18 May 2020 Setup Getting up and running with your new Tile-enabled HP Elite Dragonfly is simple. Ben Patterson, PCWorld, "Hands-on: HP Elite Dragonfly, the first laptop with an integrated Tile tracker," 18 May 2020 Back at Milk Street, the testing was simple enough. TheWeek, "Chicken en Cocotte: France's one pot solution," 17 May 2020 And, compared to canning, stirring together a shrub is simple. Al Culliton, Bon Appétit, "Rhubarb Shrub is Spring in a Bottle," 15 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun As technological advances created electronic music instruments such as the Moog and ARP synthesizers, Schneider and Kraftwerk harnessed that energy to create simple, robotic rhythms that celebrated the sheer weirdness of these new sounds. Los Angeles Times, "Florian Schneider, co-founder of electronic pioneers Kraftwerk, dies at 73," 6 May 2020 The image of two boys delivering newspapers in the early morning light is a beautiful one – simple, yet resounding. Elizabeth Lund, The Christian Science Monitor, "Poems to remind us of our strength during quarantine," 29 Apr. 2020 Another cheesy sauce that looks super simple is the herby Parmesan sauce, which also requires just three ingredients. Jennifer Aldrich, Better Homes & Gardens, "Olive Garden Has Recipes for Some Its Beloved Dishes for You to Make at Home," 22 Apr. 2020 Of course, obesity can’t be regarded as a simple, standalone health issue. Chase Purdy, Quartz, "Scientists are exploring food crunchiness as a tool to fight obesity," 15 Feb. 2020 The idea behind contact tracing is simple: Find out who might have been exposed to someone infected by the virus and notify them so they can be isolated from others as soon as possible. Lauren Caruba,, "How an army of San Antonio students is helping contact trace for the coronavirus," 8 May 2020 The concept is simple: At the end of the day, every day, grab a scrap of paper and jot down the day’s happiest moment — whatever brings you peace or joy — no matter how big or small. Dallas News, "Improve your day with these happiness hacks," 4 May 2020 The process is simple: Cut lemons into quarters, and coat cut surfaces with salt at a ratio of 1 teaspoon of salt to 1 lemon. Washington Post, "Capture the sunny freshness of lemons with syrup, marmalade and preserves," 4 May 2020 Their mission when the group formed March 21 was simple: produce quality masks for Corvallis-area health care workers and first responders. oregonlive, "Corvallis Sewing Brigade has made 13,000 masks in face of coronavirus outbreak; how many more depends on public support," 1 May 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

26 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Simple.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for simple


How to pronounce simple (audio)

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 simpler (audio) \; simplest\ -​p(ə-​)ləst How to pronounce simplest (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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More from Merriam-Webster on simple

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for simple

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with simple

Spanish Central: Translation of simple

Nglish: Translation of simple for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of simple for Arabic Speakers

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