Middle English Dictionary Entry

simple adj.
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Entry Info

Definitions (Senses and Subsenses)

(a) Blameless, innocent; upright; guileless, artless; (b) of the eyes:?innocent, not sinful; ?sound, healthy; -- used fig.
(a) Free from pride, humble, meek; restrained in appearance or behavior, modest; also, quiet, shy [quot.: a1382]; also in personification [quot.: c1390]; also, of manner of life, a song, etc.: unpretentious; ~ herted, q.v.; (b) of cloth, clothing, etc.: modest, plain, unadorned; not garish or intricate in design; (c) of food: plain, not sumptuous.
(a) Lowly, common; impoverished, destitute; also in proverb [quot.: a1500(a1450)]; (b) lowest in rank among a group; lacking any additional honors, titles, or authority; comp. lower in rank, subordinate; (c) not solemn, low; ~ feste, an ordinary saint's day or a festival of equivalent dignity to a saint's day.
(a) Inadequate, insufficient; weak, feeble; mere; also, insufficient in number, few [2nd quot.]; (b) sad, downcast; mournful, sorrowful; ~ chere; (c) of little value; low in price or income; of sins: venial [1st quot.].
Ignorant, uneducated; unsophisticated; simple-minded, foolish; also, unintelligent, lacking reason [quot.: a1398]; ~ herted, q.v.; ~ lettred, barely educated; ~ metre, unpolished verse.
(a) Single, individual; whole, complete; not composite; [some glossary quots. may belong in other senses]; ~ criinge of trompes, a plain uninterrupted note played on trumpets; (b) lacking additional factors; unqualified; mere; sheer; also, uncomplicated [last quot.]; (c) clear, straightforward; easily understood; (d) of hair: straight, not curly.
(a) Phys. Consisting of a single one of the four elements, not compounded; (b) theol. consisting solely of form, having no matter.
(a) Consisting of only one substance or ingredient, uncompounded; (b) anat. composed of a single bodily substance, homogeneous; (c) med. of a wound, fracture, sickness, etc.: lacking complications; also, of a wound: having no flesh lost; of a fever or an aposteme: caused by a single humor; (d) of a surgical instrument: constructed as a single piece, not bifurcated.
(a) Law Lacking additional legal stipulations, unlimited; not accompanied by any legal formalities; chartre ~, ?an unsealed contract; fe ~, tenure of an estate without limitation to a particular class of heirs [see also fe n.(2) 1.(e)]; obligacioun ~, ?a verbal agreement; (b) phil. unconditional; ~ necessite, that which is necessarily true or absolutely fated or predestined.
(a) Of a word:?uncompounded; ~ name; (b) of a number: having only one digit.
As noun: (a) an innocent or a guileless person; a righteous person; -- also coll.; (b) a humble or modest person; (c) a person of low degree; a poor person; -- also coll.; (d) a weak person; also, harmless things [1st quot.]; the simpleste, the weakest or smallest bird; (e) ignorant people; (f) an uncompounded substance; -- also coll.; the simpleste, God; (g) anat. a part of the body composed of one substance only; -- also coll.; (h) law a legal act not limited by further stipulations; (i) gram. an uncompounded word, an independent lexical unit; (j) a number having only one digit.

Supplemental Materials (draft)

  • a1400 Trin-C O.9.39 Recipes (Trin-C O.9.39) 21/27 : So badde myȝt þy stone be and so symple of colour þat þu schuldest skarcely haue of oo pounde of þy stone oon vnce of fyne azure.
  • Note: Antedates sense 4.(a).