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The adjective "simple" might have many meanings.

Some dictionaries say "a simple person is stupid".

8 STUPID [not before noun] someone who is simple is not very intelligent

I’m afraid Luke’s a bit simple.

But, the internet also have another definition of "simple person" which is completely opposite the one mentioned above.

Simple people, or people who claim minimalism, simplicity, and easy-going lives, are relaxed, patient, and present in their everyday lives.

Simple Person

A simple person is someone who is uncomplicated. They're grateful for the little things in life. They don't try to impress, they're humble. They know what really matters and what doesn't, they're very creative and of higher intelligence than most people, others have trouble understanding them because of the different levels of intelligence. A Simple person is usually of the highest intellect, great character, experienced, and wise. A simple person has a heart of gold and loves nature, their friends and family. It's the simple things in life that they enjoy like quality time. A simple person knows their time is short, so they'll spend every breathing second to make the best of it. They're great listeners, give the best advice. Smart, charismatic, brave and blessed with natural beauty.

In everyday conversation,

Do people think his is stupid if they hear someone say "he is very simple" or it depends on contexts?

Now, "humility" is the noun of "humble" and we have this sentence

He is very humble and his humility set a good example for his children

Now, suppose I use the adjective "simple" with its positive meaning above "claim minimalism, simplicity, and easy-going lives, are relaxed, patient"

What is the noun of this adjective?

What should I fill in this blank?

He is very simple and his ____ (simplicity/simpleness/...) set a good example for his children

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  • A simple person might be nervous, calm, agitated. Those are states.
    – Lambie
    Nov 30 '21 at 19:36
11

Urban dictionary should not be relied on. It can be an alternative source in cases of slang, but it is pretty much useless for "normal" words like simple.

When applied to a person, simple means, or strongly suggests, "stupid". It is a euphemism, but one that has now become nearly as rude as "stupid".

Jack has a useful list of nouns - or you can use use an adjective with "nature" or "temperament"

He's very easy-going, and his relaxed nature sets a good example.

5
  • 3
    Note Longman's definition 5 - 'honest and ordinary, not special' which comes before No. 8. I would say that the euphemism simple implies, not stupidity, but a mild mental handicap. Nov 30 '21 at 10:27
  • Is the "stupid" definition still used much these days? I feel like it has gone the way of "retarded".
    – Barmar
    Nov 30 '21 at 15:16
  • 5
    @Barmar - Simple used to be the polite way to say it. I think many people would still use simple and think it was polite.
    – EllieK
    Nov 30 '21 at 17:54
  • @Kate "stupid" is a blunt and rude way of saying "mild mental handicap".
    – James K
    Nov 30 '21 at 19:03
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    @Barmar Yes, like other euphemisms, they quickly are discarded, they stop being polite and become rude. You won't get much actual use of "simple" applied to a person, because it does mean stupid, and so it is now rude to call someone "simple".
    – James K
    Nov 30 '21 at 19:05
5

Synonyms from a dictionary:
Merriam-Webster simplicity

  1. the quality or state of being simple and sincere
    answered the judge's questions with childlike simplicity

That entry has a long list of synonyms of simplicity. These are some that seem to me to fit your intention:

artlessness, guilelessness, naturalness, genuineness, openness, sincerity, straightforwardness, unaffectedness, unpretentiousness

You should consult the definitions of the ones that seem interesting.

3

The phrase simple person means uncomplicated person.

The adjective simple can mean "not smart".

Example:

I'm a simple person. I like hamburgers and fries.

John is simple and I try to keep him out of trouble.

John is a simple person so we don't have to worry about being too fancy.

You provided a pretty good definition of "simple person" in your question - and that's the thing - the two words together have a specific definition that isn't really conveyed by an adjective. T

The best solution is to eliminate the need for the adjective:

He is a simple person which sets a good example for his children

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  • 1
    "He is a simple person,which sets a good example..." or "He is a simple person who..." or "He lives simply, which sets a good example..." Omitting the comma made me have to back up a read the sentence again.
    – ColleenV
    Nov 30 '21 at 16:42
  • I think that there's a difference in meaning between calling someone a "simple person" (uncomplicated) and calling them "simple" (stupid).
    – nick012000
    Dec 1 '21 at 16:46
2

Down-to-earth. From Merriam-Webster:

Essential Meaning of down-to-earth

  1. informal and easy to talk to

//a down-to-earth person

//He's very down-to-earth despite his fame.

  1. practical and sensible

//down-to-earth advice

//Students liked the teacher's down-to-earth approach.

Full Definition of down-to-earth

  1. PRACTICAL

//down-to-earth traveling tips

  1. UNPRETENTIOUS

//surprised to find the movie star so down-to-earth

Synonyms

demure, humble, lowly, meek, modest, unassuming, unpretentious

For your example phrase:

"He is very down-to-earth and set a good example for his children."

OR

"He is very simple, and his down-to-earth attitude set a good example for his children."

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  • 1
    @MarcOnManhatten Either "his attitude sets a good example" or "his attitude set a good example" is fine without more context.
    – ColleenV
    Nov 30 '21 at 16:58
  • @ColleenV Haha. I think youwant AA, though; he wrote that answer. Dec 2 '21 at 22:21
  • 1
    @MarcInManhattan You’re the one that changed “sets” to “set”. Did you not intend to do that?
    – ColleenV
    Dec 2 '21 at 23:52
  • @ColleenV Oh, I didn't remember that. I think that I thought it should reflect the original question (which uses past tense "set"). I guess that AA wanted to keep the tenses in the two clauses consistent. Yes, I agree that either is grammatically correct without more context. Thanks! Dec 3 '21 at 15:38
2

There is an idiom "a simple life" which it sounds like you are describing. From Merriam-Webster

used to refer to a manner of living in which a person does not own many things or use many modern machines and usually lives in the countryside

One generally "seeks to live a simple life" or "believes in a simple life". While it is negative to "be simple" it is generally positive to "desire simplicity". So your example becomes:

He seeks to live a simple life and this simplicity set a good example for his children

0

There’s an American hymn called “Simple Gifts,” written by Joseph Brackett in 1848, that’s one of the most famous examples of the sense you found.

'Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free

'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained,

To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,

To turn, turn will be our delight,

Till by turning, turning we come ’round right

Despite that, calling someone “simple” is almost always an insult, and means they are mentally impaired.

A better word to use might be authenticity, meaning “not false or imitation” and “true to one's own personality, spirit, or character.” Synonyms include honesty, genuineness, sincerity, integrity and trustworthiness.

Simple in the positive sense also connotes a kind of down-to-earth lifestyle, which doesn’t try to impress anyone. The first words that come to mind for it are modesty, unpretentiousness, unaffectedness or naturalness (although this can mean either be true to one’s own nature, or in harmony with the natural world). Any of the negated nouns might be replaced with a phrase such as, “lack of pretensions” or “way of not putting on airs.”

Simple can also imply a rural lifestyle, also called rusticness, rusticity or bucolicity (a word so fancy that using it is ironically doing the opposite)

Another idiom of this (from the Gospels, and with a religious connotation) is, the salt of the earth, “A person or group that is regarded as genuine, unpretentious, and morally sound.” Even Jesus, though, threw in a jibe afterward: “But if the salt has lost its savor, ....”

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