sim·​plis·​tic | \ sim-ˈpli-stik How to pronounce simplistic (audio) \

Definition of simplistic

: excessively simple or simplified : treating a problem or subject with false simplicity by omitting or ignoring complicating factors or details adequate, if occasionally simplistic, historical background— Harlow Robinson The simplistic headlines of the press can be very misleading.— Matt Ridley Choosing wars as demarcations of cultural times segments may seem simplistic, but there is little question that a new sensibility made its appearance in the United States after World War II.— Naomi Rosenblum

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Other Words from simplistic

simplistically \ sim-​ˈpli-​sti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce simplistically (audio) \ adverb

Did You Know?

The facts of nature and of life are more apt to be complex than simple. Simplistic theories are generally one-sided and partial, wrote the American clergyman James Freeman Clarke in the 19th century, nicely illustrating the difference between plain, ordinary simple and the then-new adjective simplistic. Simplistic is generally synonymous with oversimplified, but we didn't have the verb oversimplify and its participle oversimplified until well into the 20th century. Simplistic is sometimes used in the neutral sense of "not complicated" (in which case it is synonymous with simple) but this borders on misuse-simplistic is generally understood to be pejorative.

Examples of simplistic in a Sentence

a simplistic approach to a complicated problem His interpretation of the theory was too simplistic.
Recent Examples on the Web Porter, who has played video games for most of her life, understands well the simplistic depictions of Black people in video games, either as drug dealers or criminals. Star Tribune, "Entrepreneur uses video games to empower," 11 Sep. 2020 Thirdly, the book sometimes makes simplistic conclusions about complicated issues. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Jana Riess: Controversial Latter-day Saint book pulled from publication," 8 Sep. 2020 But saying that Ouster has become the industry leader would be too simplistic. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Lidar is becoming a real business," 8 Sep. 2020 But the idea that either China or the US has to ride in on a white horse to save the day is seen by some not only as simplistic, but condescending. Matt Rivers, CNN, "Pandemic power play: It's China vs. the US in Latin America," 15 Aug. 2020 But violence-prevention experts say the president's comments reflect a simplistic approach to a historically complicated problem of violence within Black communities. Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY, "Record wave of deadly shootings hits US cities. More police aren't the answer, activists say," 15 Aug. 2020 This held even when participants assessed a grid of simplistic black-and-white line drawings in which physical traits were only implied, Guo says. Jillian Kramer, Scientific American, "Invisible Qualities Such as ‘Hardness’ Can Pinpoint Objects," 1 Aug. 2020 Despite their microscopic size and simplistic cells, bacteria are some of the hardiest life forms around. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian Magazine, "Microbes Living in Deep Sea Rocks Spawn More Hope for Life on Mars," 8 Apr. 2020 Such aims are lost in Brad and Beckett's simplistic weekly back-and-forth bickering about the importance of following rules or breaking them, which is just not entertaining. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Star Trek: Lower Decks': TV Review," 6 Aug. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'simplistic.' 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 simplistic

1844, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of simplistic was in 1844

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Last Updated

15 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Simplistic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for simplistic


How to pronounce simplistic (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of simplistic

disapproving : too simple : not complete or thorough enough : not treating or considering all possibilities or parts

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