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 gather simples, or medicinal plants.
  • 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.
  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • "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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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


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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