Definition of simple in English:


Syllabification: sim·ple
Pronunciation: /ˈsimpəl

adjective (simpler, simplest)

1Easily understood or done; presenting no difficulty: a simple solution camcorders are now so simple to operate
More example sentences
  • The notes are simple and are easily understandable even to a common man.
  • The first five steps are really very simple and can easily avert a potential disaster.
  • The order should be expressed in simple terms, easily understood even by those who, like the appellant, are not very bright.
informal as easy as pie, as easy as ABC, a piece of cake, a cinch, no sweat, a pushover, kids' stuff, a breeze, duck soup, a snap
clear, plain, straightforward, intelligible, comprehensible, uncomplicated, accessible
informal user-friendly
1.1Plain, basic, or uncomplicated in form, nature, or design; without much decoration or ornamentation: a simple white blouse the house is furnished in a simple country style
More example sentences
  • All furniture forms were plain in design with simple or no surface decoration.
  • The entire layout is extremely basic and simple, designed to allow gamers to get in and out quickly.
  • The other features a modern look with simple designs in black white and silver.
plain, unadorned, undecorated, unembellished, unornamented, unelaborate, basic, unsophisticated, no-frills;
classic, understated, uncluttered, restrained, unshowy, unflashy
1.2 [attributive] Used to emphasize the fundamental and straightforward nature of something: the simple truth
More example sentences
  • All the fundamental paradoxes are true for one simple reason: they are truths.
  • I should not have had to cross the world to discover something as simple and fundamental as this.
  • This looks to me more like a boom driven by very simple fundamentals.
candid, frank, honest, sincere, plain, absolute, unqualified, bald, stark, unadorned, unvarnished, unembellished
2Composed of a single element; not compound.
More example sentences
  • That way you can upgrade your patient's break from a simple to a compound fracture and claim more money from the insurance company.
  • A lively dance; the music from Shakespeare's time is often in simple rather than compound metre.
noncompound, noncomplex, uncombined, unblended, unalloyed, pure, single
2.1 Mathematics Denoting a group that has no proper normal subgroup.
More example sentences
  • In it he determined the minimal simple finite groups, this is to say, the simple groups whose proper subgroups are solvable.
  • Galois then shows that the non-abelian simple group of smallest order has order 60.
  • He searched for finite simple groups and in an 1892 paper he showed that all simple groups up to order 200 are already known.
2.2 Botany (Of a leaf or stem) not divided or branched.
More example sentences
  • This axis comprised successive nodes, each having a simple leaf, separated by internodes of variable length.
2.3(Of a lens, microscope, etc.) consisting of a single lens or component.
More example sentences
  • Painters like Vermeer traced images from convex mirrors and simple lenses - thus the hand in the camera.
  • The biaxial scanning mechanism and the simple objective lenses are the key features.
  • Petzval produced an achromatic portrait lens that was vastly superior to the simple meniscus lens then in use.
2.4(In English grammar) denoting a tense formed without an auxiliary, e.g., sang as opposed to was singing.
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  • Traditionally, the simple future tense is will or shall followed by the infinitive: will follow.
2.5(Of interest) payable on the sum loaned only. Compare with compound1.
More example sentences
  • The interest rolls up in the units you buy, so you actually get capital gain on your units rather than simple interest.
  • Bankers charged simple interest, with interest capitalised at intervals.
  • They gave her simple interest on it and they absolved her of her liability for the occupation rent.
3Of or characteristic of low rank or status; humble and unpretentious: a simple Buddhist monk
More example sentences
  • They lived a similar humble and simple life, before both being assassinated by the British Royal Family.
  • He was a quiet unassuming man with simple tastes and was dedicated to his greyhounds and track.
  • These leaders, unlike Jesus, who was humble and simple, are the affluent lot.
unpretentious, unsophisticated, ordinary, unaffected, unassuming, natural, honest-to-goodness, cracker-barrel
informal country-fried
4Of low or abnormally low intelligence.
More example sentences
  • Marx always emphasised that we can learn more from intelligent conservatives than from simple liberals.
having learning difficulties, having special (educational) needs;
of low intelligence, simpleminded, unintelligent, backward, (mentally) retarded


chiefly historical Back to top  
A medicinal herb, or a medicine made from one: the gatherers of simples
More example sentences
  • The woodlands were a reservoir of fuel; they were a larder of delicacies; a medicine chest of simples and cures.
  • The poetic and medical arts - not disease - flourish in gardens: their cool shade and sacred laurel trees give shelter to Apollo's inspirational Muses, and their plants furnish powerful pharmaceutical simples to combat disease.
  • Tia Aria showed me the garden where herbs medicinal and herbs amatory went into the making of her famous simples.


Middle English: from Old French, from Latin simplus. The noun sense (mid 16th century) originally referred to a medicine made from one constituent, especially from one plant.



More example sentences
  • The folksiness, the simpleness, simply repels them.
  • The cultural preference of simpleness that has been with us throughout our long history is very solid and lies deep inside us.
  • ‘We were born simply into life; the simpleness of life is the most cherished,’ she continues.

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