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[sim-puh l] /ˈsɪm pəl/
adjective, simpler, simplest.
easy to understand, deal with, use, etc.:
a simple matter; simple tools.
not elaborate or artificial; plain:
a simple style.
not ornate or luxurious; unadorned:
a simple gown.
unaffected; unassuming; modest:
a simple manner.
not complicated:
a simple design.
not complex or compound; single.
occurring or considered alone; mere; bare:
the simple truth; a simple fact.
free of deceit or guile; sincere; unconditional:
a frank, simple answer.
common or ordinary:
a simple soldier.
not grand or sophisticated; unpretentious:
a simple way of life.
humble or lowly:
simple folk.
inconsequential or rudimentary.
unlearned; ignorant.
lacking mental acuteness or sense:
a simple way of thinking.
unsophisticated; naive; credulous.
  1. composed of only one substance or element:
    a simple substance.
  2. not mixed.
Botany. not divided into parts:
a simple leaf; a simple stem.
Zoology. not compound:
a simple ascidian.
Music. uncompounded or without overtones; single:
simple tone.
Grammar. having only the head without modifying elements included: The simple subject of “The dappled pony gazed over the fence” is “pony.”.
Compare complete (def 5).
(of a verb tense) consisting of a main verb with no auxiliaries, as takes (simple present) or stood (simple past) (opposed to compound).
Mathematics, linear (def 7).
Optics. (of a lens) having two optical surfaces only.
an ignorant, foolish, or gullible person.
something simple, unmixed, or uncompounded.
simples, Textiles. cords for controlling the warp threads in forming the shed on draw-looms.
a person of humble origins; commoner.
an herb or other plant used for medicinal purposes:
country simples.
Origin of simple
1175-1225; (adj.) Middle English < Old French < Late Latin simplus simple, Latin (in simpla pecunia simple fee or sum), equivalent to sim- one (see simplex) + -plus, as in duplus duple, double (see -fold); cognate with Greek háplos (see haplo-); (noun) Middle English: commoner, derivative of the adj.
Related forms
simpleness, noun
oversimple, adjective
oversimpleness, noun
oversimply, adverb
subsimple, adjective
ultrasimple, adjective
unsimple, adjective
unsimpleness, noun
unsimply, adverb
Can be confused
simple, simplified, simplistic (see confusables note at simplistic)
1. clear, intelligible, understandable, unmistakable, lucid. 2. natural, unembellished, neat. 8. artless, guileless, ingenuous. 12. trifling, trivial, nonessential, unnecessary. 13. untutored, stupid.
Confusables note
See simplistic.
Synonym Study
10. See homely. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for simple
  • If you're too clear, if your sentences are too simple, your peers won't take you seriously.
  • Some are simple and straightforward, others intricate and complex.
  • Pure and simple, they do not belong to those who took them.
  • So clear and simple is it, indeed, that one constantly forgets that the printed page is before one.
  • From there it's easy to imagine tiny, sugar-poached tomatoes nestled alongside summer berries in a simple tart or crumble.
  • It's a natural fit for practically any get-together-from a simple family birthday celebration to an elaborate dinner party.
  • To say the problem is merely the power of organized labor is too simple-minded.
  • The facts are accurately stated, but the suggestion that they are not capable of easy and simple explanation is not justified.
  • It's so simple and easy to carbonate anything, especially liquor.
  • It's a simple step that will make all the difference in the world.
British Dictionary definitions for simple


not involved or complicated; easy to understand or do: a simple problem
plain; unadorned: a simple dress
consisting of one element or part only; not combined or complex: a simple mechanism
unaffected or unpretentious: although he became famous, he remained a simple and well-liked man
not guileful; sincere; frank: her simple explanation was readily accepted
of humble condition or rank: the peasant was of simple birth
weak in intelligence; feeble-minded
(prenominal) without additions or modifications; mere: the witness told the simple truth
(prenomina) ordinary or straightforward: a simple case of mumps
(chem) (of a substance or material) consisting of only one chemical compound rather than a mixture of compounds
  1. (of a fraction) containing only integers
  2. (of an equation) containing variables to the first power only; linear
  3. (of a root of an equation) occurring only once; not multiple
  1. not divided into parts: a simple leaf, a simple eye
  2. formed from only one ovary: simple fruit
(music) relating to or denoting a time where the number of beats per bar may be two, three, or four
noun (archaic)
a simpleton; fool
a plant, esp a herbaceous plant, having medicinal properties
Derived Forms
simpleness, noun
Word Origin
C13: via Old French from Latin simplex plain
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for simple

c.1200, "free from duplicity, upright, guileless; blameless, innocently harmless," also "ignorant, uneducated; unsophisticated; simple-minded, foolish," from Old French simple (12c.) "plain, decent; friendly, sweet; naive, foolish, stupid," hence "wretched, miserable," from Latin simplus, variant of simplex "simple, uncompounded," literally "onefold" (see simplex). Sense of "free from pride, humble, meek" is mid-13c. As "consisting of only one substance or ingredient" (opposite of composite or compounded) it dates from late 14c.; as "easily done" (opposite of complicated) it dates from late 15c.

From mid-14c. as "unqualified; mere; sheer;" also "clear, straightforward; easily understood." From late 14c. as "single, individual; whole." From late 14c. of clothing, etc., "modest, plain, unadorned," and of food, "plain, not sumptuous." In medicine, of fractures, etc., "lacking complications," late 14c. As a law term, "lacking additional legal stipulations, unlimited," from mid-14c.

In Middle English with wider senses than recently, e.g. "inadequate, insufficient; weak, feeble; mere; few; sad, downcast; mournful; of little value; low in price; impoverished, destitute;" of hair, "straight, not curly." As noun, "an innocent or a guileless person; a humble or modest person" (late 14c.), also "an uncompounded substance." From c.1500 as "ignorant people."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for simple



A simpleton; a stupid person; klutz: Simps with mustaches are a menace to society/ I really thought it would be till death do us part. I was such a simp (1903+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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simple in Technology

1. Early system on Datatron 200 series. Listed in CACM 2(5):16 (May 1959).
2. Simulation of Industrial Management Problems with Lots of Equations. R.K. Bennett, 1958. Predecessor to DYNAMO, for IBM 704.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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Idioms and Phrases with simple


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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