from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To simplify to the point of causing misrepresentation, misconception, or error.
  • intransitive v. To cause distortion or error by extreme simplification of a subject.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To explain or present something in a way that excludes important information for the sake of brevity, or of making the explanation or presentation easy to understand.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. to simplify excessively so as to distort or misrepresent; -- of facts, assertions, or communications.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. simplify to an excessive degree
  • v. make too simple


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • I like Cherie Priests new steampunk novel Boneshaker, which to oversimplify is about a mother fighting zombies to get her son back.

    Fighting for Spawn at SF Novelists

  • The reason, to oversimplify, is that a wire can simultaneously carry signals at a variety of frequencies, from sixty cycles per second for electric power to 3 million cycles per second and up for Internet data.

    E-mail Out of Every Plug

  • I did grossly oversimplify, which is always a danger under 500 words.


  • Basically, the article is long on sensationalism and short on news - much like the big photo on the page, a human-interest picture from Haiti, underneath which we find a crypto-denialist story about climate change carrying the headline "Push to Oversimplify at Climate Panel". story loves that "oversimplify" word, using it in two headlines and twice in the body of the article, but in all cases the shorter and more objective "simplify" would be much better suited. Home Page

  • This unique visual acuity led indirectly (to crudely oversimplify) to the peculiar evolutionary path of primate brains.

    Cover to Cover

  • Remember that, in the smallest nutshell into which we can oversimplify it, Lines 1, 2 and 5 of the limerick must each contain the meter "o-hickory-dickory-dock" and must rhyme with one another; and that Lines 3 and 4 must contain "o-dickory-dock" and rhyme with each other.

    Week 887: A new contest: We give you a line, you write the rest of the limerick

  • However, Nisbet contends that when you oversimplify a policy debate as a matter of science, you create the incentive to distort the science, which is exactly what has happened over climate change.

    2009 December 14 | Serendipity

  • I didn't want to minimize or oversimplify anything.

    Nedda Alammar: Can America Speak Muslim?

  • The film makes us realize that laying the blame on one group would be to oversimplify a complex problem.

    Jasmine Boussem: Is the Wait for 'Superman' Over?

  • It is tempting to oversimplify Rahm's impact on the Obama Administration as a short-sighted bully who may well have screwed what could have been a great presidency with his belligerence to cover up his lack of political acumen.

    John Wellington Ennis: How Rahm Bombed


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.