Definition of simple in English:


Line breaks: sim¦ple
Pronunciation: /ˈsɪmp(ə)l

adjective (simpler, simplest)

  • 3Composed of a single element; not compound.
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    • 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.
    non-compound, non-complex, uncompounded, uncombined, unmixed, unblended, unalloyed, pure, basic, single, elementary, fundamental
  • 3.1 Mathematics Denoting a group that has no proper normal subgroup.
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    • 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.
  • 3.2 Botany (Of a leaf or stem) not divided or branched.
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    • This axis comprised successive nodes, each having a simple leaf, separated by internodes of variable length.
  • 3.3(Of a lens, microscope, etc.) consisting of a single lens or component.
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    • 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.
  • 3.4(In English grammar) denoting a tense formed without an auxiliary, for example 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.
  • 3.5(Of interest) payable on the sum loaned only. Compare with compound1.
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    • 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.
  • 4Of very low intelligence.
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    • Marx always emphasised that we can learn more from intelligent conservatives than from simple liberals.


chiefly • historical Back to top  
  • A medicinal herb, or a medicine made from one: the gatherers of simples
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    • 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.



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.


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.

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grotesque quality or grotesque things collectively