Printable Version
Pronunciation: sim-pli-stik Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Misleadingly simple; overly simplifying or oversimplified.

Notes: Today's word is more and more confused with the word it is derived from, simple. They don't mean the same thing. Simplistic usually refers to an idea that is too simple to work. It is the adjective for simplism "oversimplification", the defining character trait of simplists—though simpletons tend to be the same.

In Play: Today's Good Word usually describes an explanation: "I'm afraid your explanation of the Earth as a plate riding on the back of a giant turtle is a bit too simplistic for me." However, other acts based on explanations or understandings may be covered by the same sense: "Your expectation to succeed in politics based on your intelligence is simply simplistic."

Word History: This word ultimately goes back to Latin simplus and simplex "simple". The original root was Proto-Indo-European sem- "one" found in Greek heis (from hem-s) "one" and homos "same." English simultaneous comes from Latin simul "at one time", and the root is hidden in assemble and ensemble, too. Some comes from Old English sum "one, a certain one", and the suffix -some (e.g. handsome, lonesome) comes from Old English sum "like", both from this root. The second element in simplus is related to Latin plicare and Greek plekein "to fold". We also find Russian plesti "to braid" and English pleat, so the original meaning was something like "one-fold", as in manifold. (We are simply delighted that Mary Jane Stoneburg, one of the long-time Good Word editors, focused our awareness on the proper use of today's word many long years ago.)

Dr. Goodword,

P.S. - Register for the Daily Good Word E-Mail! - You can get our daily Good Word sent directly to you via e-mail in either HTML or Text format. Go to our Registration Page to sign up today!