[ sim-puhl ]
See synonyms for: simplesimplersimplestsimples on

adjective,sim·pler, sim·plest.
  1. easy to understand, deal with, use, etc.: a simple matter;simple tools.

  2. not elaborate or artificial; plain: a simple style.

  1. not ornate or luxurious; unadorned: a simple gown.

  2. unaffected; unassuming; modest: a simple manner.

  3. not complicated: a simple design.

  4. not complex or compound;single

  5. occurring or considered alone; mere; bare: the simple truth;a simple fact.

  6. free of deceit or guile; sincere; unconditional: a frank, simple answer.

  7. common or ordinary: a simple soldier.

  8. not grand or sophisticated; unpretentious: a simple way of life.

  9. humble or lowly: simple folk.

  10. inconsequential or rudimentary.

  11. lacking mental acuteness or sense: a simple way of thinking.

  12. Chemistry.

    • composed of only one substance or element: a simple substance.

    • not mixed.

  13. Botany. not divided into parts: a simple leaf;a simple stem.

  14. Zoology. not compound: a simple ascidian.

  15. Music. uncompounded or without overtones; single: simple tone.

  16. 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).

  17. (of a verb tense) consisting of a main verb with no auxiliaries, as takes (simple present) or stood (simple past) (opposed to compound).

  18. Mathematics. linear (def. 8).

  19. Optics. (of a lens) having two optical surfaces only.

  1. an ignorant, foolish, or gullible person.

  2. something simple, unmixed, or uncompounded.

  1. simples, Textiles. cords for controlling the warp threads in forming the shed on draw-looms.

  2. a person of humble origins; commoner.

  3. an herb or other plant used for medicinal purposes: country simples.

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.

confusables note For simple

Other words for simple

Other words from simple

  • sim·ple·ness, noun
  • o·ver·sim·ple, adjective
  • o·ver·sim·ple·ness, noun
  • o·ver·sim·p·ly, adverb
  • sub·sim·ple, adjective
  • ul·tra·sim·ple, adjective
  • un·sim·ple, adjective
  • un·sim·ple·ness, noun
  • un·sim·p·ly, adverb

Words that may be confused with simple Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use simple in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for simple


/ (ˈsɪmpəl) /

  1. not involved or complicated; easy to understand or do: a simple problem

  2. plain; unadorned: a simple dress

  1. consisting of one element or part only; not combined or complex: a simple mechanism

  2. unaffected or unpretentious: although he became famous, he remained a simple and well-liked man

  3. not guileful; sincere; frank: her simple explanation was readily accepted

  4. of humble condition or rank: the peasant was of simple birth

  5. weak in intelligence; feeble-minded

  6. (prenominal) without additions or modifications; mere: the witness told the simple truth

  7. (prenomina) ordinary or straightforward: a simple case of mumps

  8. chem (of a substance or material) consisting of only one chemical compound rather than a mixture of compounds

  9. maths

    • (of a fraction) containing only integers

    • (of an equation) containing variables to the first power only; linear

    • (of a root of an equation) occurring only once; not multiple

  10. biology

    • not divided into parts: a simple leaf; a simple eye

    • formed from only one ovary: simple fruit

  11. music relating to or denoting a time where the number of beats per bar may be two, three, or four

  1. a simpleton; fool

  2. a plant, esp a herbaceous plant, having medicinal properties

Origin of simple

C13: via Old French from Latin simplex plain

Derived forms of simple

  • simpleness, noun

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.