simple, and then there's
austere: something stripped of decoration or any hint of luxury, like a room with just a mattress on the floor and bare walls. Not a prison cell, though:
austere doesn't connote punishment, but either hard times or a conscious choice to make do with little.
austere appearance of the Burren landscape belies its rich diversity.
Ease comes from the Old French
aise, meaning "opportunity" or "freedom." The notion of freedom carried over into English, specifically freedom from pain, discomfort, or difficulty. We also use the opposite French term,
malaise, as a synonym for
uneasy: a feeling of discomfort or lack of well-being.
This is mostly because of the
ease of use that these gadgets offer.
Elements are the building blocks of the universe. As such, they're the basis for everything we see and do. So something
elementary is foundational, or entry-level: basic.
And he ended with a list of
facilis, meaning "easy," became the French
facile. In English, though, it has a negative meaning, referring to something done quickly or carelessly.
Not only was this a
facile attempt at armchair activism, it actively disrupted the hashtag #blacklivesmatter, which protesters, reporters and activists were using to collate news about police violence against protesters.
Humus is Latin for "ground" or "earth," and we still use it in English to refer to a particular type of nutrient-rich soil. Based on that root,
humilem means "low," "lowly," or "insignificant;" it's where we get
Humble comes from the same source, and refers to a person who is by nature meek and modest, or one who has been brought down by shame, or a lifestyle or abode that lacks luxury of any sort.
The Season 12 alumna emerged victorious by creatively elevating
humble Asian dishes to Michelin-star status.
A number of the words on this list can be applied to people as well as things, ideas, or spaces.
Modest comes from the Latin
modestus, meaning "unassuming," "reserved," or "well-behaved," and it still carries those meanings when applied to a person. If you're talking about a budget, though, or an apartment, then
modest describes a fairly low number or a small, functional dwelling.
The truest bonds are forged in closer, more
modest quarters, and sometimes the truest movies.
An over-ripe banana is a parent’s best friend, its concentrated
natural sugars sweetening everything from breakfast to pudding.
Plain comes from the Latin
planum, meaning a flat surface, which is why the huge grasslands of the Midwest are called the Great Plains. Something unadorned, unremarkable, or featureless is
The 28-year-old model took to Twitter on Tuesday to express her disdain for the #BlackOutTuesday trend on social media in which people post a simple,
plain black square.
pure refers to things being at their best in their simplest state: the way they occur in nature.
It’s another moment of human
purity bulldozed by television.
simplex means "alone," "plain," or "basic." That became
simple in French, which English borrowed.
simple recipe is just 15 minutes in the making – much quicker than your average fruit jam – and flavoured with vanilla, lime and dark rum.
This version would be
simplicity itself: thin slices of toasted day-old baguette or ciabatta, rubbed with garlic, smeared with a dab of chopped sun-dried tomato and topped with a bit of anchovy.
What a difference a suffix makes! Where
simplicity both usually have positive connotations,
simplistic refers to something that's so dumbed down or incomplete that it's useless. It's quite similar to
facile, seen above.
Set in a series of underwater worlds, there is nothing
simplistic about the game design.
spare in this sense refers to something — often an interior — with few furnishings or decorations. So a
spare room can mean one of two things: either a guest bedroom, where
spare means "extra," or a lightly furnished and minimally decorated space.
spare, piercing verses are not reserved for poets of the distant past, however.
Sparta is a city in Greece.
Spartan warriors were famous for their toughness and ability to make do with very little. So a life defined by discipline and a lack of luxury or comfort can be called
spartan, as can a living space like the one described up top in the note for
On a recent Sunday, he offered services from his
spartan apartment in the Bronx via live stream.