sim·ple | \ ˈsim-pəl \
simpler\ˈsim-p(ə-)lər \; simplest\ˈsim-p(ə-)ləst \

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(1) : stupid

(2) : mentally retarded

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) : a mentally retarded person

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 \ 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


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

Cooking on a boat, even making a simple sandwich, can sometimes be a challenge because of weather conditions. Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press, "How 5 Port Huron-to-Mackinac racers feed sailboat crews," 13 July 2018 Continue on for quick techniques that can start your routine off right, and to see how Ultimune fits into Shiseido’s simple three-step routine. The Cut, "How to Get the Most Out of Your Serum," 13 July 2018 In honoring that often-tragic passage, the artist has overlaid the flags’ simple stripes with paintings that represent poetic celestial maps. George Fishman, miamiherald, "Monarchs ‘Brown and Native’ butterfly exhibit a response to contemporary events," 13 July 2018 Case in point: the simple wearing of a helmet when riding a motorcycle., "Immigrants want what we have: the American Dream," 12 July 2018 Microsoft is clearly listening to Windows 10 users who use notepad for development, logs, or simple text manipulation. Tom Warren, The Verge, "Microsoft is updating the Windows Notepad app for the first time in years," 12 July 2018 The simplest option, Dolan says, is to use the green ammonia as fertilizer, like today's ammonia but without the carbon penalty. Robert F. Service, Science | AAAS, "Ammonia—a renewable fuel made from sun, air, and water—could power the globe without carbon," 12 July 2018 What started as a simple promotion turned into a circus, though. Lucas Aulbach, The Courier-Journal, "Build-A-Bear promotion made families wait hours – and then it closed," 12 July 2018 For someone who seems to prefer simple styles, Camilla is clearly a fan of polka dots, and has worn a fair share of the pattern over the years. Kara Thompson, Town & Country, "Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall Sat Courtside at Wimbledon Today," 11 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

After leading Eastern Conference teams to the NBA Finals for eight straight seasons, the formula is simple: Surround James with 3-point shooting and winning follows. Vince Ellis, Detroit Free Press, "Why Michigan's Moritz Wagner might be perfect fit for Lakers, LeBron James," 12 July 2018 Their vision is simple: Approach each piece like a sculpture, without a fixed plan in mind. Kaitlin Phillips, Vogue, "Green River Project LLC Debuts Elegant, Lounge-Ready Furniture Alongside Bode’s Menswear," 11 July 2018 Well, everything with Mikal is real simple because his mom and dad are great people. Rob Mahoney,, "Breakaway: Inside the Life of Future Lottery Pick Mikal Bridges," 15 June 2018 While Meghan Markle's neckline was a bit wider than Angela's, both women kept their jewelry simple and accessorized with tiaras worn far back on their heads, flowing veils, and their hair pulled into low buns. Lyndsey Matthews, Town & Country, "Was Meghan Markle’s Wedding Dress a Nod to Princess Angela of Liechtenstein?," 23 May 2018 At the end, a simple thank you for your time is offered on behalf of the grand jury. Evan Perez, CNN, "Hot Pockets, mismatched chairs and a critical mission: Inside year one of the Mueller investigation," 17 May 2018 The court said Monday that the name change will be accomplished through a simple and free procedure. Fox News, "Costa Rican court issues decision on gender identity," 14 May 2018 Singer and songwriter Jackson Browne did the simple and moving thing of putting a story into song. John Adamian,, "Jackson Browne Coming To The Oakdale," 5 May 2018 The Federalist Party has but two goals, at once simple and colossal: 1) the eventual reestablishment of government jurisdictions as prescribed in the Constitution and 2) congressional term limits, the latter integral to achieving the former. William F. B. O'reilly, National Review, "With Fealty to Frailty, the Federalist Party of America Launches," 15 Feb. 2018

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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Statistics for simple

Last Updated

2 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for simple

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

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

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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