simple

1 of 2

adjective

sim·​ple ˈsim-pəl How to pronounce simple (audio)
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
: lacking in intelligence : stupid
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 sense 3
simpleness noun

simple

2 of 2

noun

1
a
: a person of humble birth : commoner
thought very little of anybody, simples or gentryVirginia Woolf
b(1)
: a rude or credulous person : ignoramus
(2)
2
a
: a medicinal plant
b
: a vegetable drug having only one ingredient
3
: one component of a complex
specifically : an unanalyzable constituent
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.
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
Afterwards, they are wrapped in a simple white sheet before being laid to rest in the earth. Esther Sun, Sacramento Bee, 7 July 2024 A day after the debate, Jill Biden took to the stage in a statement dress decorated with a simple word: Vote. Leonard Greene, New York Daily News, 7 July 2024
Noun
Cut the simple in half and add a half ounce of Amaro Meletti for a juicy and floral herbaceousness. Jason O'Bryan, Robb Report, 29 June 2024 The kit comes with clear, concise directions that make creating wall-worthy art simple. Tanya Edwards, Parents, 13 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for simple 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'simple.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

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

First Known Use

Adjective

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of simple was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near simple

Cite this Entry

“Simple.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/simple. Accessed 16 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

simple

adjective
sim·​ple
ˈsim-pəl
simpler
-p(ə-)lər
; simplest
-p(ə-)ləst
1
: free from dishonesty or vanity : innocent
2
: not wealthy
simple folks
3
: lacking in education, experience, or intelligence
4
a
: free from complications
a simple melody
neat simple clothing
b
: consisting of only one main clause and no subordinate clauses
a simple sentence
c
: consisting of only the verb
a simple predicate
5
: not compound
a simple eye
6
a
: not divided into branches or leaflets
a simple leaf
b
: developing from a single ovary
simple fruits
7
: utter entry 1, absolute
the simple truth
8
: easy to understand or perform
simple instructions
a simple explanation
simpleness
-pəl-nəs
noun

Medical Definition

simple

1 of 2 adjective
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)
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

simple

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

Legal Definition

simple

adjective
sim·​ple
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
simply adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on simple

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