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

Example Sentences

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 most obvious benefit to pursuing Jackson, despite the high cost such a trade would demand, is simple: the Texans would undoubtedly have a franchise quarterback for the first time since Deshaun Watson forced his way out of the Bayou City. Josh Criswell, Chron, 18 Jan. 2023 The case was simple, easy to relate to, and succinctly captured fears about EU overreach. James Vincent, The Verge, 16 Jan. 2023 He was inspired by the simple, yet flavorful food and decided to bring it back to Phoenix. Bahar Anooshahr, The Arizona Republic, 14 Jan. 2023 The slated design of the storage shelf is sleek, simple, and sturdy. Amber Joglar, Popular Mechanics, 13 Jan. 2023 And at some point, every replay of a cheerful-yet-simple kids song becomes psychological torture. The Editors, Outside Online, 10 Jan. 2023 Across the table at breakfast, the first woman to helm a Wilson production on Broadway asked Moreland a simple, but important question. Abbey White, The Hollywood Reporter, 8 Jan. 2023 This streamlined and durable shaker from Cocktail Kingdom can churn out drinks quickly thanks to its simple, sturdy and easy-to-clean design. Samantha Macavoy, Good Housekeeping, 4 Jan. 2023 For National Bloody Mary Day, six drink experts share their favorite garnishes and whether simple, classic or over the top, the reasons behind them are all authentic and admirable (responding to the social media craze is not found amongst them). Jillian Dara, Forbes, 31 Dec. 2022
Noun
At its heart is the same PM5—a simple, yet sophisticated performance monitor that keeps track of your vitals between workouts. Ebenezer Samuel, Men's Health, 13 Nov. 2022 This five-piece set from Skkn by Kim embraces the notion that simple can be just as effective. Nerisha Penrose, ELLE, 17 Dec. 2022 This list simple would not be complete without a pair of boots. Roxanne Adamiyatt, Town & Country, 5 Dec. 2022 Fresh goat cheese, deeply flavorful Blenheim apricots (tangier and sweeter than Turkish apricots) and stubby, rich Marcona almonds are worth using here, because in a recipe this simple, the flavors are really noticeable. Magdalena O'neal, Sunset Magazine, 25 Mar. 2022 Otherwise, Samson kept the palette simple, with oak cabinetry and coordinating stools from Industry West surrounding a custom island. Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, 18 Nov. 2022 He’s a utopian, a peacemaker, who renders complexity simple and conflicts solvable. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, 5 Dec. 2022 The title track in particular is a glowy dreamscape, a paean to simple and in this case bodily pleasures. Matthew Richards, Chicago Tribune, 7 Nov. 2022 This proves that simple is sometimes the way to go, and is why this cologne has been popular since 1996. Grooming Playbook, The Salt Lake Tribune, 4 Nov. 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.

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 26 Jan. 2023.

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

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