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I always thought the word "simpleness" didn't exist and this was even confirmed by some American friends of mine. However, I tried to look it up on some online dictionaries and I was surprised to find out that some of them report this word while others don't. What's the story behind "simpleness"?

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closed as general reference by MετάEd, Kristina Lopez, Hellion, Kris, choster May 22 '13 at 13:29

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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You don't want to use it instead of simplicity; that would sound uneducated or inarticulate. –  Mitch May 21 '13 at 10:19
    
    
Simpleness is not quite the same thing as simplicity: Syn: artlessness, greenness, guilelessness, ingenuousness, innocence, naiveness, naivety (also naïvety) [chiefly British], naturalness, simplemindedness, simpleness, simplicity, unsophistication, unworldliness, viridity (merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/simpleness); freedom from difficulty or hardship or effort (thefreedictionary.com/Simpleness) –  Kris May 21 '13 at 10:30
    
see "Is 'quantitate' a synonym for 'quantify' or just a misnomer?" for how to tell if something is a word. –  Matt Эллен May 21 '13 at 12:55

1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Simpleness does not necessarily mean the same as simplicity.

For example, simple time in music is a time signature (basic rhythm) which is not compound time. Simple time has simpleness, not simplicity.

OED has a number of similar definitions:

simpleness noun

  1. Absence of pride, ostentation, or pretentiousness; plain or unassuming disposition or manners.
  2. Absence of duplicity or guile; innocence, integrity, guilelessness.
  3. a. Deficiency in knowledge or learning, ignorance; also, lack of mental acuteness, intellectual weakness, foolishness.
  4. a. Poor or lowly condition; also, lack of elegance or refinement; plainness of dress, etc.
  5. Absence of complexity; freedom from complications; simple character.
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Thank you for your answer. By saying that "does not necessarily mean the same" it's not clear if it could still be used as a synonim of "simplicity". Can you clarify? –  Geeo May 21 '13 at 10:19
    
This is a simple sentence. It is a model of simplicity. All of the examples in my answer have simpleness as the "quality of being simple," not simplicity. Simpleness is more of a technical term, perhaps. –  Andrew Leach May 21 '13 at 10:26
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You can find some good examples of how simpleness is properly used in the BYU copus. There are 10 hits. I would suspect that most careful users would either restrict it to its technical meanings, as in music, or its suggestion that a person described as having the trait of simpleness is essentially simpleminded or intellectually challenged, to put it into PC-speak. Google Ngrams shows very few examples of simpleness: here are some examples. –  user21497 May 21 '13 at 11:20
    
OTOH, probably 9 times out of 10 if you see "simpleness" the person meant "simplicity", but couldn't come up with that word for some reason (brain-fart, bad vocabulary, etc.). –  T.E.D. May 21 '13 at 13:13
    
@T.E.D. yeah indeed, especially when Italians try to translate something to english :-) –  Geeo May 21 '13 at 14:09

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