See more synonyms for simple 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.
  3. not ornate or luxurious; unadorned: a simple gown.
  4. unaffected; unassuming; modest: a simple manner.
  5. not complicated: a simple design.
  6. not complex or compound; single.
  7. occurring or considered alone; mere; bare: the simple truth; a simple fact.
  8. free of deceit or guile; sincere; unconditional: a frank, simple answer.
  9. common or ordinary: a simple soldier.
  10. not grand or sophisticated; unpretentious: a simple way of life.
  11. humble or lowly: simple folk.
  12. inconsequential or rudimentary.
  13. unlearned; ignorant.
  14. lacking mental acuteness or sense: a simple way of thinking.
  15. unsophisticated; naive; credulous.
  16. simpleminded.
  17. Chemistry.
    1. composed of only one substance or element: a simple substance.
    2. not mixed.
  18. Botany. not divided into parts: a simple leaf; a simple stem.
  19. Zoology. not compound: a simple ascidian.
  20. Music. uncompounded or without overtones; single: simple tone.
  21. 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).
  22. (of a verb tense) consisting of a main verb with no auxiliaries, as takes (simple present) or stood (simple past) (opposed to compound).
  23. Mathematics. linear(def 7).
  24. Optics. (of a lens) having two optical surfaces only.
  1. an ignorant, foolish, or gullible person.
  2. something simple, unmixed, or uncompounded.
  3. simples, Textiles. cords for controlling the warp threads in forming the shed on draw-looms.
  4. a person of humble origins; commoner.
  5. 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 formssim·ple·ness, nouno·ver·sim·ple, adjectiveo·ver·sim·ple·ness, nouno·ver·sim·p·ly, adverbsub·sim·ple, adjectiveul·tra·sim·ple, adjectiveun·sim·ple, adjectiveun·sim·ple·ness, nounun·sim·p·ly, adverb
Can be confusedsimple simplified simplistic (see confusables note at simplistic)

Synonym study

10. See homely.

Synonyms for simple

See more synonyms for on

Confusables note Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for simplest

Contemporary Examples of simplest

Historical Examples of simplest

  • It was the simplest hymn, Hester thought, she had ever heard.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • The reply was of the simplest, and it was the end of argument.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • The simplest child he would no more offend than the most powerful man.


    Scian Dubh

  • We find that the deepest thoughts can be expressed in the simplest language.

  • The discipline is of the simplest, yet, I was assured, quite efficacious.

    In the Heart of Vosges

    Matilda Betham-Edwards

British Dictionary definitions for simplest


  1. not involved or complicated; easy to understand or doa simple problem
  2. plain; unadorneda simple dress
  3. consisting of one element or part only; not combined or complexa simple mechanism
  4. unaffected or unpretentiousalthough he became famous, he remained a simple and well-liked man
  5. not guileful; sincere; frankher simple explanation was readily accepted
  6. of humble condition or rankthe peasant was of simple birth
  7. weak in intelligence; feeble-minded
  8. (prenominal) without additions or modifications; merethe witness told the simple truth
  9. (prenomina) ordinary or straightforwarda simple case of mumps
  10. chem (of a substance or material) consisting of only one chemical compound rather than a mixture of compounds
  11. maths
    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
  12. biology
    1. not divided into partsa simple leaf; a simple eye
    2. formed from only one ovarysimple fruit
  13. music relating to or denoting a time where the number of beats per bar may be two, three, or four
noun archaic
  1. a simpleton; fool
  2. a plant, esp a herbaceous plant, having medicinal properties
Derived Formssimpleness, 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

Word Origin and History for simplest



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

Idioms and Phrases with simplest


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.