Meaning of SIMPLE in English

I. ˈsimpəl adjective

( simpler -p(ə)lə(r) ; simplest -p(ə)lə̇st)

Etymology: Middle English, from Old French, plain, uncomplicated, artless, from Latin simplus or simplex; Latin simplus from sem-, sim- one + -plus multiplied by; Latin simplic-, simplex from sem-, sim- + -plic-, -plex -fold; akin to Greek di plak-, di plax twofold, double, and perhaps to Latin plaga surface, region — more at same , double , flake

1. : free from guile : innocent , artless

children grow up in simple beauty around his table — Irish Digest


a. : free from vanity or conceit : modest , unassuming

his simple manners and unaffected friendliness — A.W.Long

b. : free from ostentation or display : plain , unadorned

her black dress, simple to austerity — W.S.Maugham

a simple rectangular brick building — American Guide Series: Virginia

his home simple , his possessions few — P.E.James

love of the simple life, of trees and small animals — B.M.Woodbridge


a. : of humble origin : common

found it easier to proclaim himself a prophet than in his home city, where everyone had known him as a simple camel driver — H.W.Van Loon

b. archaic : lacking special distinction : ordinary

this change affected … only the simple barons — William Stubbs

c. archaic : wanting in power or importance : feeble , insignificant

a simple woman, much too weak to oppose your cunning — Shakespeare

scoffed at … this high quest as at a simple thing — Alfred Tennyson


a. : lacking in knowledge or scholarly finesse : uneducated , inexpert

a simple amateur … or a serious scholar — Denys Sutton

show my mind, according to my shallow simple skill — Shakespeare


(1) : mentally retarded : stupid , half-witted

one of the girls is simple , the other works as a domestic — J.M.Mogey

(2) : easily deceived : credulous , gullible

the whole town was baited with … trickery to catch the simple cowhand and remove his cash — S.H.Holbrook

c. : being at a relatively low cultural level : naïve , unsophisticated

the worldwide story of the conquest of simple peoples and their homelands by the civilization, arms, and diseases of a more dominant race — American Guide Series: Minnesota


a. : lacking admixture or qualification : pure , sheer

simple honesty requires us to admit that none of our creeds are entirely free from guesswork — M.R.Cohen

a net rusher pure and simple lacking a really powerful serve — Sydney (Australia) Bulletin

in no case may a warrant be issued for a simple exploratory search — Paul Wilson

ratification of treaties by a simple majority — Vera M. Dean


(1) : free of secondary complications

a simple fracture

(2) : containing or consisting of elementary ingredients

her cures were simple … usually very sensible — Mary Webb

c. : consisting of or constituting a basic element : fundamental , uncompounded

one of those simple and profound experiences … which people seem always to have known when it happens to them — Thomas Wolfe

even under the most uniform laboratory conditions, a simple color will be complex to the extent of having a bluish edge — John Dewey

specifically : elemental 2a(2)


(1) : having a relatively small and uncomplicated molecule : not complex

(2) : made up of essentially similar constituents

a simple compound

: characterized by the same groups, radicals, or ions

triacetin is a simple glyceride

— opposed to mixed

e. : admitting of no analysis into parts — opposed to complex

f. : having the least possible scoring value in its class


a. : grammatically uncomplicated: as

(1) : having no subsidiary components (as suffixes or combining forms) : being a simplex

a simple word

— contrasted with complex, compound

(2) : having only one main clause and no subordinate clauses

“let's go for a walk” is a simple sentence

— contrasted with complex, compound

(3) : having no modifiers, complements, or objects

in the sentence “birds fly” birds is the simple subject and fly the simple predicate

— compare complete

(4) : formed without the use of an auxiliary verb

simple tense

— opposed to compound


(1) : having two, three, or four basic rhythmic units to the musical measure (as 2/4, 3/2, 4/8)

simple time

simple meter

— compare compound

(2) : free from elaboration or figuration

simple harmony

simple counterpoint

— contrasted with figurate

(3) : not greater than the octave

simple interval

c. : not complex or compound

simple fractions

simple magnitudes

simple operations

simple equations

simple interest


(1) : not subdivided into branches

simple stem

(2) : monocarpellary

(3) : consisting of cells of a similar structure and function

simple tissue

(4) : developing from a single ovary

simple fruit

e. : uncomplicated in structure

a simple lens

a simple democracy in which the heads of families met fortnightly to consult about … matters — American Guide Series: Rhode Island

f. : apparently dependent on the action of a single gene

simple inherited characters


(1) : homogeneous 2a

a simple mineral

(2) : primitive 1c — compare space lattice


a. : oral or written but not under seal or of record

simple contract

b. : unaccompanied by complicating factors (as violence)

c. : having no limitation or restrictions : absolute , unconditional

simple obligation

— compare fee simple

8. : readily understood or performed : causing little difficulty : easy , straightforward

our mother … was as complex as our father was simple — L.C.Powys

the causes … lie deep, and to explain them is not simple — William Petersen

nontechnical, clear-cut, easily understandable, simple step-by-step … rules which could be used by the average person — W.J.Reilly


foolish , silly , fatuous , asinine : simple in this sense may imply either a degree of intelligence inadequate to cope with anything complex, a more definite feeblemindedness, or, in relation to persons of normal capacity, a failure to use one's intelligence

she's rather simple, poor dear, and she thinks we're all wonderful — W.S.Maugham

you are fretting about General Tilucy, and that is very simple of you — Jane Austen

foolish may indicate a mere lack of judgment or discretion or capricious failure to employ good sense and seriousness

virtuous or vicious, thrifty or careless, wise or foolish — G.B.Shaw

but foolish man foregoes his proper bliss — William Cowper

silly may describe gross lack of judgment; it may connote folly, inanity, or nonsense

the cut of her chiffon dress hinted that she had a silly conception of romance — Rebecca West

the vapid and silly chatter of ordinary sociability — J.C.Powys

fatuous is likely to involve fond, delusive, obtuse foolishness and disregard of reality

with fatuous beaming he described a night at Barney's; without any success whatever, he tried to be funny — Sinclair Lewis

her haughtiness in the day of glory was simply fatuous, based on stupidity — Arnold Bennett

a number of fatuous theories about the connection of Central American culture with that of the Old World have been broached — Edward Clodd

asinine describes utter failure to exercise normal intelligence, rationality, or perception

his reply was simply contemptuous … “What an asinine question!” — Bram Stoker

their cumulative efforts have resulted in the most asinine and inept movie that has come out of Hollywood in years — John McCarten

Synonym: see in addition easy , natural , plain , pure .

II. noun

( -s )

Etymology: Middle English, from simple (I)


a. : a person of humble birth : commoner

thought very little of anybody, simples or gentry — Virginia Woolf


(1) : an uneducated or unduly credulous person : ignoramus , gull

universal education destroyed the advantage which the shrewd had over the simple — Reinhold Niebuhr

(2) : a mentally retarded person : simpleton

buffoons … were usually simples or hunchbacks — J.S.Clarke


a. : a plant used for its supposed medicinal properties

the herb garden and barn redolent with drying bunches of simples — Lucy Embury

b. : a vegetable drug or medicinal preparation having only one ingredient

herbs for their homely simples — Flora Thompson

3. : a single element : one component of a complex ; specifically : an unanalyzable constituent

4. simples plural , dialect chiefly England : foolish behavior : silliness

you should be cut for the simples this morning — Jonathan Swift

5. : a set of cords for raising the heddles of a drawloom

6. : a feast of the lowest liturgical order of precedence in the Roman Catholic Church — compare double 1b

III. adverb

1. obsolete : in an unassuming manner : humbly , modestly

as simple as I stand here — Ben Jonson

2. dialect : in a silly manner : foolishly

IV. verb

( simpled ; simpled ; simpling -p(ə)liŋ ; simples )

intransitive verb

[ simple (II) ]

obsolete : to gather herbs for simples

transitive verb

[ simple (I) ]

: to cause (a compound steam engine) to work like a simple engine by admitting live steam directly from the boiler to the low-pressure cylinder

simple the engine in starting a heavy freight train

V. adjective

of a statistical hypothesis : specifying exact values for one or more statistical parameters — compare composite herein

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.