from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Having few parts or features; not complicated or elaborate.
  • adjective Easy to understand, do, or carry out: synonym: easy.
  • adjective Having or composed of only one thing, element, or part.
  • adjective Being without additions or modifications; mere.
  • adjective Biology Having no divisions or branches; not compound.
  • adjective Music Being without figuration or elaboration.
  • adjective Having little or no ornamentation; not embellished or adorned: synonym: plain.
  • adjective Not characterized by luxury or elaborate commitments.
  • adjective Not pretentious, guileful, or deceitful; humble or sincere.
  • adjective Having or showing little intelligence, education, or experience: synonym: naive.
  • adjective Lowly in condition or rank.
  • noun A medicinal plant or the medicine obtained from it.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To make (the second or low-pressure cylinder of a compound engine) receive live steam direct from the boiler, instead of receiving its working fluid as exhaust from the first or high-pressure cylinder, as in normal series-working. This is done in starting, or occasionally with unusual overload on the engine, and the two cylinders work as two simple engines.
  • To gather simples, or medicinal plants.
  • noun In French boston, or in heart solo, the winning of five tricks with a partner.
  • noun In division loo, a pool which has been put up by the dealer alone. Pools which have been contributed to by players who have been looed are double pools.
  • Without parts, either absolutely, or of a special kind alone considered; elementary; uncompounded: as, a simple substance; a simple concept; a simple distortion.
  • Having few parts; free from complexity or complication; uninvolved; not elaborate; not modified.
  • Without elaborate and rich ornamentation; not loaded with extrinsic details; plain; beautiful, if at all, in its essential parts and their relations.
  • Without sauce or condiment; without luxurious or unwholesome accompaniments: as, a simple diet; a simple repast.
  • Mere; pure; sheer; absolute.
  • Plain in dress, manner, or deportment; hence, making no pretense; unaffected; unassuming; unsophisticated; artless; sincere.
  • Of little value or importance; insignificant; trifling.
  • Without rank; lowly; humble; poor.
  • Deficient in the mental effects of experience and education; unlearned; unsophisticated; hence, silly; incapable of understanding a situation of affairs; easily deceived.
  • Proceeding from ignorance or folly; evidencing a lack of sense or knowledge.
  • Presenting no difficulties or obstacles; easily done, used, understood, or the like; adapted to man's natural powers of acting or thinking; plain; clear; easy: as, a simple task; a simple statement; a simple explanation.
  • In music: Single; not compound: as, a simple sound or tone.
  • Undeveloped; not complex: as, simple counterpoint, fugue, imitation, rhythm, time.
  • Not exceeding an octave; not compound: as, a simple interval, third, fifth, etc.
  • Unbroken by valves or crooks: as, a simple tube in a trumpet.
  • In botany, not formed by a union of similar parts or groups of parts: thus, a simple pistil is of one carpel; a simple leaf is of one blade; a simple stem or trunk is one not divided at the base. Compare simple umbel, below.
  • In z oöl. and anatomy: Plain; entire; not varied, complicated, or appendaged. See simple-faced.
  • Single: not compound, social, or colonial: as, the simple ascidians; the simple (not compound) eyes or ocelli of an insect.
  • Normal or usual; ordinary; not duplex: as, the simple teeth of ordinary rodents. See simple-toothed.
  • In entomology, more particularly— Formed of one lobe, joint, etc.: as, a simple maxilla; the simple capitulum or club of an antenna.
  • Not specially enlarged, dilated, robust, etc.: as, simple femora, not fitted for leaping or not like a grasshopper's.
  • Entire; not dentate, serrate, emarginate, etc.; having no special processes, etc.: as, a simple margin.
  • Not sheathed or vaginate: as, a simple aculeus or sting.
  • In chem., that has not been decomposed or separated into chemically distinct kinds of matter; elementary. See element, 3.
  • In mineralogy, homogeneous.
  • The object of a simple concept.
  • That which is not composed of different things, especially not of matter and form, but is either pure matter or pure form
  • That which is not composed of different kinds of matter, as an element.
  • Later. a dissyllabic or trisyllabic foot, with inclusion of the pyrrhic (): opposed to a compound foot in the sense of a foot compounded of these. See pyrrhic.
  • A monomial.
  • Synonyms Unmixed, elementary.


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

[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin simplus; see sem- in Indo-European roots and from simplex; see simplex.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English simple, from Old French and French simple, from Latin simplex ("simple, literally 'onefold', as opposed to duplex, twofold, double"), from sim- ("the same") + plicare ("to fold"): see same and fold. Compare single, singular, simultaneous, etc.


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  • Having confused physical with linguistic or expressive facts, and observing that, in the order of ideas, the simple precedes the complex, they necessarily ended by thinking that _the smaller_ physical facts were _the more simple_.

    Aesthetic as Science of Expression and General Linguistic Benedetto Croce 1909

  • When I once told a sceptical friend about Miss Florence Cook's séance, and added, triumphantly, "Why, she's a pretty little simple girl of sixteen," that clenched the doubts of this Thomas at once, for he rejoined, "What is there that a pretty little _simple_ girl of sixteen won't do?"

    Mystic London: or, Phases of occult life in the metropolis Charles Maurice Davies 1869

  • Commerce, III, 4, I, even the simple bankrupt in contradistinction to the fraudulent bankrupt is punished, and every person unable to pay his debts is declared a _simple_ bankrupt, who, among other things, has made excessive household expenses, or lost considerable sums by play etc.

    System der volkswirthschaft. English Wilhelm Roscher 1855

  • "And, like a great many other simple but important processes, rare just because it _is so simple_," remarked Maurice, with great justice.

    Fairy Fingers A Novel Anna Cora Ogden Mowatt Ritchie 1844

  • II. i.39 (123,2) [without you were so simple, none else would] None else would _be so simple_.

    Notes to Shakespeare — Volume 01: Comedies Samuel Johnson 1746

  • My arthritic little fingers beg to differ with the term simple, however Husband sprang to the fore and the light house was soon in the tree.

    Epinions Recent Content for Home 2009

  • Thanks for your response, Lexikos, but I think you should have read more carefully / I should have stated in the subject that the function is for pixels that can't be retrieved by PixelGetColor (or GetPixel), but I wanted to keep the title simple / there's no much room (I've edited it now).

    AutoHotkey Community 2009

  • Thanks for your response, Lexikos, but I think you should have read more carefully / I should have stated in the subject that the function is for pixels that can't be retrieved by PixelGetColor (or GetPixel), but I wanted to keep the title simple / there's no much room (I've edited it now).

    AutoHotkey Community 2009

  • There are deeper playing options with plenty of complexity, but the goal was to make the title simple and fun out of the box.

    Brandon Sun Online - Top Stories 2008

  • I fear, though, Nigel and I have very different interpretations of the word simple.

    TV review: Rick Stein's Spanish Christmas; Nigel Slater's Simple Christmas; Obsessive Compulsive Hoarder 2011


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  • After talking in this manner he drew from his pocket a phial full of a lively-looking red liquor, on which he expatiated thus: Here is an elixir which I have distilled this morning from the juices of certain plants; for I have employed almost my whole life, like Democritus, in finding out the properties of simples and minerals.

    - Lesage, The Adventures of Gil Blas of Santillane, tr. Smollett, bk 7 ch. 8

    October 1, 2008

  • People believe that their lives are very complicated so anything that simplifies the process will have their attention.

    '15 words that will make you money'

    July 23, 2009

  • It's too bad that entire families have to be torn apart by something as simple as wild dogs.

    -Jack Handy

    July 23, 2009

  • It's A Shame That A Family Can Be Torn Apart By Something As Simple As A Pack Of Wild Dogs

    -Ed Gein album

    So, I dunno which came first, but I prefer Jack Handy's version (below). In any event, great use of the word "simple".

    July 24, 2009

  • He might have belonged with a simple which grew in a certain slug-haunted corner of the garden, whose use she could never be betrayed into telling me, though I saw her cutting the tops by moonlight once, as if it were a charm, and not a medicine, like the great fading bloodroot leaves.

    --Sarah Orne Jewett, 1896, The Country of the Pointed Firs

    January 28, 2010