Difference Between Simple and Simpleton (With Table)

English is the most spoken language all around the globe. As a result, confusion between similar sounding words is also more. There are many words in the language that may sound similar at first but differ entirely in their meaning. Two such words are simple and a simpleton.

Simple vs Simpleton

The difference between simple and simpleton is that simple is an adjective that is used to complement a noun and simpleton is itself a noun. Even though both of these words share the same first name, their meanings and where they should correctly be used differ entirely from each other.

Simple is an adjective that gives detailed information about the noun that it is representing. There are various meanings that define the word simple such as single, not complex, plain, mere, entire, etc. Simple can also be used as an adverb. Additionally, simple can be changed into three degrees of comparison like many other adjectives.

Simpleton on the other hand is a noun. Simpleton is defined as a person with a weak intellect or a silly person. Simpleton is used as a label for certain people to signify a trait in them. Moreover, simpleton is also used for people who can understand only simple things.

Comparison Table Between Simple and Simpleton

Parameters of ComparisonSimple Simpleton
OriginMid 16th century from the Latin word ‘Simplus’.Mid 17th century from simple.
Part of SpeechAdjectiveNoun
SyllablesIt comprises two syllables.It comprises three syllables.
The Purposeused to complement a noun or an action.To define something or someone’s quality or trait.
Forms of UseCan be used as an adverb and an adjective with three degrees of comparison.Can only be used in its original form.

What is Simple?

Simple is a word that was originated in the mid 16th century. It was derived from the Latin word ‘Simplus’ which means simple in English. Simple is an adjective that is used to complement an action or a noun. Simple can have variable meanings to various nouns depending upon what it is representing. The various meanings that define simple are single, not complex, mere, plain, unwise, weak in intellect, etc.

Simple comprises two syllables including sim-ple. The pronunciation of simple is sim-pul. Not only in English sentences but simple is also used in various other domains such as accounting, mathematics, chemistry, etc. Since simple is an adjective, it can be used in other forms such as an adverb and also as an adjective of three degrees of comparison. According to the notation, ‘simple’ is the basic form of the adjective, ‘simpler’ is the comparative form of the adjective, and ‘simplest’ is the superlative form of the adjective.

Simple can be used in sentences as an adverb to compare or as an adjective to complement a noun. For example:

  1. This work is simple enough that even a child can do it.
  2. A visit to his elementary school reminded him of simpler times.
  3. Rainwater harvesting is the simplest of methods to save water.

What is Simpleton?

Simpleton is a word that was first used in 1630. It was originated from the adjective ‘Simple’. Simpleton is a noun and has a slightly variable meaning depending on what it is representing. Simpleton is used to defining a person with weak or silly intellect and It is used as a label to define a certain person’s silly trait. Additionally, it can be used for a person who only likes or understands simplicity in everything. More often, this word is also used as an insult to the person who is comparatively not too sharp.

Simpleton comprises three syllables including sim-ple-ton. The pronunciation of simpleton is sim-pul-tun. In addition, simpleton is a combination of two words – ‘simple’ and ‘ton’. The second part of the word, ‘ton’ is an ending in several surnames, a deduction from the word ‘town’. Since simpleton is a noun, it has only one original form and no other forms.

Simple can be used in sentences to identify, insult, or pointing out someone’s trait. For example:

  1. The merest simpleton could have easily drawn the conclusion.
  2. When the little dog appeared to him, the kind simpleton shared his meal.
  3. It’s a simple drama, but it was definitely not made by any simpletons.

Main Differences Between Simple and Simpleton

  1. In the parts of speech, simple is an adjective whereas simpleton is a noun.
  2. Simple comprises two syllables while simpleton is comprised of three syllables.
  3. Simple can be used in the form of both adjective and adverb but simpleton can only be used in its original form.
  4. Simple is only a single word that was derived from Latin whereas simpleton is a combination of two english words.
  5. Simple is also used in other domains of study including mathematics, chemistry, etc. whereras simpleton is specific to English only.


English is considered to be one of the easiest languages to learn. It is also the most commonly spoken language around the globe. Therefore, it is also the language that can often confuse people with its similar pronunciation of different words. However, simple and simpleton are related to each other as well. Simpleton as a noun was derived from simple only. Even in terms of meaning, there is a similarity that connects the two words together but the usage differs.

Moreover, simple is a flexible adjective that can be converted into one form or another depending upon the context of use. Furthermore if used as an adjective, there are three additional degrees of comparison to it. On the other hand, a noun is always a fixed word that can’t be modified under any conditions. Both simple and simpleton are different parts of speech that differentiate them from each other.

Even though both the words comprise the same first word, their definition and uses vary significantly. Using these two words incorrectly can make senseless sentences or the meaning of it as a whole sentence may altogether change. Since the pronunciation is also similar, the two words can often be confusing and their use in a sentence must carefully be executed.


  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=S64UDAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA74&dq=simple+adjective&ots=OtaYJ2L2s8&sig=qdjA-Ta9r20Rc8wyJzsHzWd-eRM
  2. https://api.taylorfrancis.com/content/books/mono/download?identifierName=doi&identifierValue=10.4324/9781315079806&type=googlepdf
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