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[sim-plis-tik] /sɪmˈplɪs tɪk/
characterized by extreme simplism; oversimplified:
a simplistic notion of good and bad.
1855-60; simple + -istic
Related forms
simplistically, adverb
Can be confused
simple, simplified, simplistic (see confusables note at the current entry)
Confusables note
Contrary to what some people believe, simplistic is not a fancy word for simple. Simplistic does not describe things that are easy to understand, deal with, or use. Those sorts of things are simply simple. However, if something is too simple—misleadingly so—then it is correctly called simplistic. An argument that glosses over or omits relevant facts and presents trite, hackneyed, slogan-like statements and sound bites is indeed simplistic.
Simple—unlike simplistic—is a term that can describe not only issues, statements, and arguments, but all manner of things observable by our senses. It can describe art, music, food, clothing—just about anything. And it is a neutral term. That is, if something is said to be simple, that can be considered either a good thing or a bad thing depending upon one’s taste. But the word is very often used positively—as encapsulated in the well-worn creative principle “Less is more”—to describe language that is straightforward and easy to understand, clothing that is not overly elaborate or excessively decorated, or architecture with clean lines. And something simple can be elegant too. To describe such things as simplistic would be an insult to their creators. And it would be ironic to use what one thinks of as a more exotic, ornamental, impressive term to describe something clear or plain and unadorned—something that is, in fact, simple. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for simplistic
  • Your idea that simple electrical equipment won't be damaged is simplistic here.
  • The new bands are totally simplistic in lyrical content, and musical ability.
  • But some researchers are cautioning against what they consider a simplistic and pessimistic viewpoint.
  • Checklists seem lowly and simplistic, but they help fill in for the gaps in our brains and between our brains.
  • Political theatre has no inherent right to be simplistic.
  • The simplistic way to build one is to have each node report its presence to a central server.
  • It is simplistic or even deceptive to say they are simply making stem cells.
  • Simply saying that electronic readers will replace printed books or magazines is too simplistic.
  • Your stories are seemingly simplistic, but emotionally charged.
  • The information imparted is pretty simplistic, but that's not the point.
British Dictionary definitions for simplistic


characterized by extreme simplicity; naive
oversimplifying complex problems; making unrealistically simple judgments or analyses
Derived Forms
simplism, noun
simplistically, adverb
Usage note
Since simplistic already has too as part of its meaning, it is tautologous to talk about something being too simplistic or over-simplistic
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 simplistic

"simple, plain, not compound," 1844, from simple (adj.) + -istic. From 1867 as "over-simple, trying to explain too much by a single principle." Also (1860) "of or pertaining to simples" (herbs used in healing, medicine of one ingredient only; the notion being that each herb possesses a particular virtue, thus a "simple" remedy), from simplist "one who studies simples" (1590s; see simple (adj.)) + -ic.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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