I. adjective (simpler; simplest) 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 2. 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.

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