sim·plis·tic | \ sim-ˈpli-stik \

Definition of simplistic 

1 : simple

2 : of, relating to, or characterized by simplism : oversimple adequate, if occasionally simplistic, historical background —Harlow Robinson

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Other words from simplistic

simplistically \sim-ˈpli-sti-k(ə-)lē \ 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

For all the strenuous effort exerted, The Beast in the Jungle ultimately feels too simplistic to fully put across James' complex psychological themes. Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Beast in the Jungle': Theater Review," 24 May 2018 Evans’s laser focus on the Hope scholarship at first seems overly simplistic. Lisa Chase, Daily Intelligencer, "Stacey Vs. Stacey," 2 May 2018 And the simplistic nature and the source of his announcement were almost as surprising as the news itself. Andrew Joseph, For The Win, "LeBron James announced that he would be joining the Lakers in the least dramatic way," 1 July 2018 Critics say that policies that grew out of simplistic interpretations of this study were racist, classist, and simply ineffective. Laura Mckenna, The Atlantic, "The Long, Contentious History of the ‘Word Gap’ Study," 15 June 2018 Both have a tendency to offer simplistic solutions to complex problems. Rondi Adamson, WSJ, "A ‘Tin-Pot Northern Trump’? Hardly," 3 June 2018 That is his definition, but ethnic nationalist demagogues offering simplistic solutions based on blaming the other for all that ails society can also be defined as fascists. New York Times, "Letters to the Editor," 16 Feb. 2018 The importance isn’t something as simplistic as this being the first major superhero motion picture where the central hero is black. Rick Bentley, sacbee, "‘Black Panther’ makes history in many ways | The Sacramento Bee," 15 Feb. 2018 Clemens and Bonds gained a bit of ground in the face of the Hall's most direct effort to impede their progress, in the form of vice chairman Joe Morgan's simplistic and reactionary letter to voters. Jay Jaffe,, "Recapping the 2018 Hall of Fame Voting: Who's In, Who's Out and Who's Left," 25 Jan. 2018

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

circa 1881, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

12 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for simplistic

The first known use of simplistic was circa 1881

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English Language Learners Definition of simplistic

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

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the setting in which something occurs

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