Oxford Dictionary (https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/just) gives a bunch of definitions about “just”

there are 3 sub-items in 4th item, one of them is pointed out by blue rectangle in the following image.

enter image description here

What is the relationship between the sub-items and the main one?

Could all of 3 sub-items could be a piece of meanings of "Simply", I guess not.

sub-item 4.2 gives

Used as a polite formula for giving permission or making a request.

and gives this example

just help yourselves

if this is one piece of meanings of the main item, namely, "Simply", the following sentence would sound normal

Simply help yourselves

which actually sounds uncommon, any ideas?

Besides, neither Oxford dictionary (https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/simply) nor Cambridge dictionary (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english-chinese-simplified/simply) has a piece of meaning similar to this one (shows politeness).

  • Those are closely related, derived subsenses/subdefinitions.
    – user3395
    Feb 20, 2020 at 13:12
  • Why do you think they have to be clearly related? See en.wiktionary.org/wiki/just where those meanings are all listed as separate entries under "Adverb". (Definitions 5, 2, & 7)
    – CJ Dennis
    Feb 20, 2020 at 22:23
  • @CJDennis The first one in your link is also in my link, namely, "Only, simply, merely". Which is the most ambiguous piece to me. Under my research, there are 5 different meanings derived from "simply", that's why I split them down.
    – brennn
    Feb 20, 2020 at 22:43
  • As you say, the meanings are different. Why do you think different meanings have to be related?
    – CJ Dennis
    Feb 20, 2020 at 22:51

1 Answer 1


All three sub-usages are clear substitutes for simply - each one in a slightly different way.

4.1: they're just great

Their condition of being great is not bound to a complicated formula like they're kind of great but with the exception of ... and actually.... No, they are great. Period. It's this simple. They are simply great.

4.2: just help yourselves

Don't go the complicated way of asking someone for help. Take the simple way. Simply help yourselves.

4.3: it might just help

I don't know. You perhaps need a complex solution. But it could also be that this simple solution works for you. This could simply be your solution. This might simply be the help you need. This might simply help.

Of cause, we don't think of 'simply' or 'just' in such a detailedness when we use them. We use them intuitively, but the intuition checks the appropriateness of the usage against such thoughts in a quick, unknown, but reliable manner.

  • Simply help yourselves really sounds uncommon, right?
    – brennn
    Feb 20, 2020 at 13:28
  • Well, yes, it's common to use just in that specific situation but with the same meaning. The idea why it sounds uncommon is simple: we are not used to it.
    – Ben A.
    Feb 20, 2020 at 13:35

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