Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin simplus, alteration of Latin simplic-, simplex single, having one ingredient, plain, from sem-, sim- one + -plic-, -plex -fold — more at same, -fold
Date: 13th century
1. free from guile ; innocent
a. free from vanity ; modest
b. free from ostentation or display <a simple outfit> 3. of humble origin or modest position <a simple farmer> 4. a. lacking in knowledge or expertise <a simple amateur of the arts> b. (1) stupid (2) mentally retarded c. not socially or culturally sophisticated ; naive; also credulous 5. a. sheer, unmixed <simple honesty> b. free of secondary complications <a simple vitamin deficiency> c. (1) having only one main clause and no subordinate clauses <a simple sentence> (2) of a subject or predicate having no modifiers, complements, or objects d. constituting a basic element ; fundamental e. not made up of many like units <a simple eye> 6. free from elaboration or figuration <simple harmony> 7. a. (1) not subdivided into branches or leaflets <a simple stem> <a simple leaf> (2) consisting of a single carpel (3) developing from a single ovary <a simple fruit> b. controlled by a single gene <simple inherited characters> 8. not limited or restricted ; unconditional <a simple obligation> 9. readily understood or performed <simple directions> <the adjustment was simple to make> 10. of a statistical hypothesis specifying exact values for one or more statistical parameters — compare composite 3 • simpleness noun Synonyms: simple, foolish, silly, fatuous, asinine mean actually or apparently deficient in intelligence. simple implies a degree of intelligence inadequate to cope with anything complex or involving mental effort <considered people simple who had trouble with computers>. foolish implies the character of being or seeming unable to use judgment, discretion, or good sense <foolish stunts>. silly suggests failure to act as a rational being especially by ridiculous behavior <the silly antics of revelers>. fatuous implies foolishness, inanity, and disregard of reality <fatuous conspiracy theories>. asinine suggests utter and contemptible failure to use normal rationality or perception <an asinine plot>. Synonym: see in addition easy. II. noun Date: 14th century 1. a. a person of humble birth ; commoner <thought very little of anybody, simples or gentry — Virginia Woolf> b. (1) a rude or credulous person ; ignoramus (2) a mentally retarded person 2. a. a medicinal plant b. a vegetable drug having only one ingredient 3. one component of a complex; specifically an unanalyzable constituent
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.