Definition of simple in English:



  • 1Easily understood or done; presenting no difficulty.

    ‘a simple solution’
    ‘camcorders are now so simple to operate’
    • ‘Independence in Europe was not presented in simple constitutionalist terms but in policy-relevant terms.’
    • ‘The stack is not tiring, fun to play, and its simple patterns are easily understood.’
    • ‘Who would have ever invented such a complicated way of presenting something so simple?’
    • ‘It's a solution so simple and elegant it's hard to believe someone hasn't thought of it sooner.’
    • ‘Mortars are easily transportable and very simple to set up, fire and then dismantle.’
    • ‘The solution to all this complexity cannot be more complexity; we must find a more elegant and simple solution.’
    • ‘Fingerprints are different: they are simple to use and easily checked.’
    • ‘Why would Hersh write something so easily disproved by simple access to the source document?’
    • ‘The brief called for simple solutions, easily adaptable to diverse and complex uses.’
    • ‘The rules for surrendering are simple to understand but are deceptively difficult to put into practice.’
    • ‘The language used by the insurance broker should be simple and easily understood by the man on the street.’
    • ‘The first five steps are really very simple and can easily avert a potential disaster.’
    • ‘Present Gabrielle with a simple query and her mouth goes into overdrive.’
    • ‘The solution is simple - to understand what an angel is looking for and then structure the presentation accordingly.’
    • ‘Although this idea is conceptually simple, it presents a large political challenge.’
    • ‘The order should be expressed in simple terms, easily understood even by those who, like the appellant, are not very bright.’
    • ‘Unfortunately none of those journalists present raised such a simple question.’
    • ‘We do need to have legislation written in a more simple and easily understood form.’
    • ‘The notes are simple and are easily understandable even to a common man.’
    • ‘The key lies in understanding what causes miliaria and following the simple steps to prevent it.’
    straightforward, easy, uncomplicated, uninvolved, effortless, painless, manageable, undemanding, unexacting, elementary, child's play, plain sailing, a five-finger exercise, nothing
    clear, plain, straightforward, clearly expressed, intelligible, comprehensible, uncomplicated, understandable, of one syllable, words of one syllable, lucid, coherent, unambiguous, direct, accessible, uninvolved
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    1. 1.1attributive Used to emphasize the fundamental and straightforward nature of something.
      ‘the simple truth’
      • ‘Why they are kept unwillingly or in my certainty willingly kept from presenting just the simple facts.’
      • ‘The reason for this is simple: mice are not small furry humans.’
      • ‘The whole thing was shaping up to be a rather simple, straightforward affair.’
      • ‘All the fundamental paradoxes are true for one simple reason: they are truths.’
      • ‘He slid under my guard and kicked me straight through anger into simple depression.’
      • ‘The simple truth is, soaps are like a comfy old pair of slippers; warming and familiar, always there for you when you get home from work.’
      • ‘This simple truth lies at the core of the need for fair and rational government regulation of industry.’
      • ‘The simple reason for this is that too much emphasis is placed on physical fitness to the detriment of skills and team play.’
      • ‘And no one knows how many children in our schools are there illegally for a simple reason.’
      • ‘Why in the world could not the Senate agree to that rather straightforward, simple statement?’
      • ‘Very often the information sought could be obtained through a simple telephone call.’
      • ‘At any other time she would have done the exact same, made an excuse as to why she didn't make him apologise, when in truth the reason was quite simple.’
      • ‘I should not have had to cross the world to discover something as simple and fundamental as this.’
      • ‘But matters pertaining to the Korean peninsula are rarely simple and straightforward.’
      • ‘There are times you have to go and battle, it is as simple and straightforward as that.’
      • ‘The ‘eye’ could not see any of the bombings for the simple reason that tall buildings block it.’
      • ‘The reason was simple: If you had somebody on the beach, your boat was defenseless.’
      • ‘The simple truth is that we can't have it all all the time.’
      • ‘Also, we are able to utilise him straight away to prevent simple situations from developing into nightmares.’
      • ‘This looks to me more like a boom driven by very simple fundamentals.’
      basic, fundamental
      candid, frank, honest, direct, sincere, plain, absolute, unqualified, bald, stark, naked, blunt, unadorned, unvarnished, unembellished
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  • 2Plain, 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’
    • ‘The simple white walls and clean lines of the store, he says, have the effect of allowing you to see the products clearly.’
    • ‘Cabin design is simple and modern, and finished in good quality materials.’
    • ‘Dressed in a simple and austere white, the students filled the auditorium with their stirring songs.’
    • ‘The simple design means assembly at the Romanian plant is done almost entirely without robots.’
    • ‘In fact, until recently, it has long been considered that the greenback dollar was a defective note, so simple in design that it was easy to fake.’
    • ‘The dashboard is clean and simple in design, with all the instruments in a single binnacle directly in front of the driver.’
    • ‘The pale yellow dress she wore was simple enough, a straight cut with a laced up back and only one shoulder strap.’
    • ‘The kitchen and bathroom are stark white, very simple and linear, but it creates a nice balance.’
    • ‘The entire layout is extremely basic and simple, designed to allow gamers to get in and out quickly.’
    • ‘True to its period, it has a simple design and is built of stone, with most of the house covered in gleaming white harling.’
    • ‘The other features a modern look with simple designs in black white and silver.’
    • ‘It was a simple plain white envelope with Yoshiki written in gold on the front.’
    • ‘This can be seen in stainless steel or brushed aluminium in uncomplicated, unadorned and simple shapes.’
    • ‘All furniture forms were plain in design with simple or no surface decoration.’
    • ‘Inside the box was a band of white gold, a plain, simple band, with a single, simply cut diamond on it.’
    • ‘The black suit he was wearing was simple but enough to emphasize his lean body.’
    • ‘Learn how to create a cross between a quilt and a pillow using simple patchwork designs.’
    • ‘It was a ship of classic, simple design, like a flattened salmon, twenty yards long, very clean, very sleek.’
    • ‘It's a nice, simple site design and the posts are pithy and interesting.’
    • ‘But the move from simple designs to the elaborate portraits was a long process.’
    plain, unadorned, undecorated, unembellished, unornamented, without ornament, without ornamentation, unelaborate, unpretentious, unostentatious, unfussy, no-nonsense, basic, modest, unsophisticated, penny plain, without frills, honest, homely, homespun, everyday, workaday
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    1. 2.1 Humble and unpretentious.
      ‘a quiet unassuming man with simple tastes’
      • ‘She was so simple and unpretentious that most people who met her had no idea of the depth of her inner life.’
      • ‘These leaders, unlike Jesus, who was humble and simple, are the affluent lot.’
      • ‘The voice is unaffectedly simple, warm and kind although sometimes a little sad.’
      • ‘They lived a similar humble and simple life, before both being assassinated by the British Royal Family.’
      • ‘Mole is a creature of great loyalty and peace, satisfied to live a quiet and simple life.’
      • ‘He has called on a simple and humble life, following the traditions of the Franciscan Order.’
      • ‘It is a small, intimate and humble place where a simple congregation once gathered for spiritual sustenance.’
      • ‘Despite their riches, the inhabitants of Madhapura are unassuming and lead a simple lifestyle.’
      • ‘Live a simple and a temperate life, that you may give all your powers to your profession.’
      • ‘For despite the artist's romantic wishful thinking, his rustic Bretons were no simple peasants.’
      • ‘Edward was a quiet, honest, simple American who had always protested his innocence.’
      • ‘We're quiet, simple folk here, show some respect will you?’
      • ‘Like the movie they are associated with, the trio too is unassuming, down-to-earth and simple.’
      • ‘Living in the shadow of Newgate Prison, Sweeney Todd tries to carve out a quiet and simple life as a barber.’
      • ‘There is something mysterious about the depiction of a simple, humble home.’
      • ‘He was a quiet unassuming man with simple tastes and was dedicated to his greyhounds and track.’
      • ‘Life at the monastery is simple, with a handful of monks beginning each day with prayers and meditation.’
      unpretentious, unsophisticated, ordinary, unaffected, unassuming, natural, honest-to-goodness, modest, homely, wholesome, humble, quiet, lowly, rustic
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  • 3Composed of a single element; not compound.

    • ‘A lively dance; the music from Shakespeare's time is often in simple rather than compound metre.’
    • ‘That way you can upgrade your patient's break from a simple to a compound fracture and claim more money from the insurance company.’
    non-compound, non-complex, uncompounded, uncombined, unmixed, unblended, unalloyed, pure, basic, single, elementary, fundamental
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    1. 3.1Mathematics Denoting a group that has no proper normal subgroup.
      • ‘In it he determined the minimal simple finite groups, this is to say, the simple groups whose proper subgroups are solvable.’
      • ‘He searched for finite simple groups and in an 1892 paper he showed that all simple groups up to order 200 are already known.’
      • ‘Leech is, however, best known for the Leech lattice which gives rise to three sporadic simple groups.’
      • ‘A finite sporadic simple group is a finite simple group which is not a member of one of the standard infinite families.’
      • ‘Galois then shows that the non-abelian simple group of smallest order has order 60.’
    2. 3.2Botany (of a leaf or stem) not divided or branched.
      • ‘This axis comprised successive nodes, each having a simple leaf, separated by internodes of variable length.’
    3. 3.3 (of a lens, microscope, etc.) consisting of a single lens or component.
      • ‘He used a simple microscope, although compound microscopes were available at the time.’
      • ‘Petzval produced an achromatic portrait lens that was vastly superior to the simple meniscus lens then in use.’
      • ‘Photograph by Allan Mills of a rectangular grid of lines on a white board, taken using a simple convex lens.’
      • ‘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.’
    4. 3.4 (in English grammar) denoting a tense formed without an auxiliary, for example sang as opposed to was singing.
      • ‘Traditionally, the simple future tense is will or shall followed by the infinitive: will follow.’
    5. 3.5 (of interest) payable on the sum loaned only.
      Compare with compound
      • ‘They gave her simple interest on it and they absolved her of her liability for the occupation rent.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The lender would then sue and only be entitled to simple interest on the judgment.’
      • ‘Equity awarded simple interest at a time when courts of law had no right under common law or statute to award any interest.’
  • 4Of very low intelligence.

    • ‘Marx always emphasised that we can learn more from intelligent conservatives than from simple liberals.’


  • A medicinal herb, or a medicine made from one.

    ‘the gatherers of simples’
    • ‘The woodlands were a reservoir of fuel; they were a larder of delicacies; a medicine chest of simples and cures.’
    • ‘Tia Aria showed me the garden where herbs medicinal and herbs amatory went into the making of her famous simples.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘By all means, start by sampling some simples and get familiar with the various teas.’
    • ‘Won't you come back to Wittenberg and heal the sick with your drugs and simples as you did before?’


  • Used to convey that something is very straightforward.

    ‘I don't overanalyse. I listen, I like, I buy. Simple!’
    • ‘It's your newsletter, so send in your caving news — simple!’
    • ‘I will stop writing about it if you stop doing it. Simple.’
    • ‘People often ask what they can do to help out around here. Simple! Get involved in the forum.’
    • ‘You'll notice my daily numbers and annual averages don't match. Simple — this site took three months to really get rolling.’
    • ‘They provide us with good service and they deserve to get paid for it. Simple!’
    • ‘If he closes only half the quangos, then statistically, although he'll half upset both quango likers and haters, he stands the best chance of maximising votes — simple!’
    • ‘If it's not legal for you to get something, you don't get it. Simple.’
    • ‘To grow old with him and see the kids grow old and have their lives, that's all I want. Simple.’
    • ‘If the price is reduced, I buy more. Simple.’
    • ‘They play because they love the game. Simple.’


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.