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 The design is simple and chic, with a ribbed texture and super soft fleece material. Annie Burdick, Peoplemag, 16 Sep. 2022 While some people are naturally gifted in the kitchen and make fixing dinners for the family look simple and fun, others need a little more help. Ysolt Usigan, Woman's Day, 15 Sep. 2022 That's why something as simple and sweet as a care package can change your perspective on the week (all while showing you that there are people who support you and notice your hard work). Mariah Thomas, Good Housekeeping, 15 Sep. 2022 The menu keeps it simple with tender platters and slider plates. Sofia Krusmark, The Arizona Republic, 14 Sep. 2022 The showstopping piece needed hardly any accessories, so Turner kept things simple, wearing only diamond drop earrings and her engagement ring and wedding band, and coordinating her glam to match the rosy tones of the dress. Rosa Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, 13 Sep. 2022 It’s a fiduciary duty and responsible business, plain and simple. Halla Tómasdóttir, Fortune, 13 Sep. 2022 The Free State strategy is simple and incremental: Attract more members to this small state, acquire and concentrate political power, and then disassemble government from the inside out. Brian Macquarrie,, 13 Sep. 2022 Another one-shoulder gown, but this time simple and sheer, almost like a second skin against Alexandra Daddario’s subtle tan. Lauren Puckett-pope, ELLE, 13 Sep. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Lizzo kept her glam simple, opting for a natural, glossy makeup look, and her hair up in a messy ballerina bun. Rosa Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, 12 Sep. 2022 Creating a nest of spaghetti sets the base, while freezer meatballs and pre-made sauce keep this appetizer recipe simple. Kristy Alpert, Better Homes & Gardens, 24 Aug. 2022 Thompson kept Rodriguez's base simple with a little bit of blush on the cheeks. Gabi Thorne, Allure, 23 June 2022 Clarity is key and communications teams should focus on keeping the messaging simple and engaging for employees. Expert Panel®, Forbes, 12 Aug. 2022 Brassybra's boob tape cups make boob tape application simple. Amanda Constantine, Good Housekeeping, 4 Aug. 2022 The seven-time National Championship winning mentor, who has sent more than 100 players to the NFL, made the conversation simple. Don Yaeger, Forbes, 31 July 2022 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 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

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

18 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Simple.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Sep. 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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