[ sim-puhl ]
/ ˈsɪm pəl /
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See synonyms for: simple / simpler / simplest / simples on Thesaurus.com

adjective, sim·pler, sim·plest.
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Origin of simple

First recorded in 1175–1225; Middle English adjective simple, simpel(le), from Old French simple, sinple, from Latin simplus “simple” (in simpla pecunia “simple fee or sum”), equivalent to sim- “one” + -plus, as in duplus “double”; Middle English noun “commoner,” derivative of the adjective; see simplex,duple, double; see also -fold; cognate with Greek háplos (see haplo-);

synonym study for simple

10. See homely.

words often confused with simple



simple , simplified, simplistic
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is a basic definition of simple?

Simple describes something as being easy to understand or do, as being plain or not elaborate, or as being ordinary or common. The word simple has many other senses as an adjective and a noun.

If something is simple, it involves little challenge or will be really easy. For example, counting to five is a simple task for most adults. Spoons and forks are simple eating tools, without any complex parts. In this sense, simple is a synonym of words such as easy and uncomplicated.

Real-life examples: Young students start with simple subjects, such as addition, before learning harder ones, such as multiplication. An untied shoelace is a simple problem to solve for most adults. Most young people find using a computer to be really simple.

Used in a sentence: I made dinner with a simple recipe designed for new cooks. 

Another sense of simple describes something as being plain and lacking flourishes or embellishments. For example, a simple shirt may be plain grey or white and not have any designs or logos on it.

Used in a sentence: She wore a simple dress to the birthday party, with no bows or ruffles.  

Simple can also describe something as being ordinary, mundane, or humble.

Real-life examples: Most pets lead simple lives of eating and sleeping. Some couples have simple weddings with no band, fireworks, or colorful decorations. A simple job is one you can do without thinking hard.

Used in a sentence: After winning the championship, I retired to live a simple life as a farmer.

Where does simple come from?

The first records of simple come from around 1175. It ultimately comes from the Latin simplex, meaning “plain.”

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What are some other forms related to simple?

  • simply (adverb)
  • simpleness (noun)
  • oversimple (adjective)
  • oversimpleness (noun)
  • oversimply (adverb)
  • subsimple (adjective)
  • ultrasimple (adjective)
  • unsimple (adjective)
  • unsimpleness (noun)
  • unsimply (adverb)

What are some synonyms for simple?

What are some words that share a root or word element with simple

What are some words that often get used in discussing simple?

How is simple used in real life?

Simple is a very common word that most often describes something as easy.



Try using simple!

Which of the following is most likely to be described as being simple?

A. flying to the moon
B. brushing your teeth
C. climbing the world’s tallest mountain
D. learning 10 new languages

How to use simple in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for simple

/ (ˈsɪmpəl) /

noun archaic
a simpleton; fool
a plant, esp a herbaceous plant, having medicinal properties

Derived forms of simple

simpleness, noun

Word Origin for simple

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with simple


see pure and simple.

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