I can't think of the word and it's been bothering me for some time now. I have attempted to reverse search it, to no avail. If someone could oblige me with the word whose definition means to oversimplify an often complex issue, I would most appreciate it!


3 Answers 3


To dumb down something.

Dumbing down:

  • Become less intellectually challenging; OD
  • The act of taking a product and watering down elements of it to make it appeal to a broader mass market. This often damages or destroys the very elements that gave the product any appeal in the first place; UD
  • And melding the two transitively means 'make a complex issue seem more simple, usually ending up with an unsatisfactory explanation'. Dec 19, 2014 at 20:26

To trivialize is to make something seem less important or serious than it really is. It can be extended to mean "oversimplify".

  • "Trivialise" is a great single-word choice, but it's less commonly used in a purely technical context. Example: "I don't want to trivialise this issue with a five-minute soundbite." would be fine if you're discussing geopolitics, but sounds weird if you're discussing string theory. In the latter case, I would say something else, e.g. "The theory is too involved for me to go into sufficient detail in just five minutes, so let's hold discussion over."
    – Deepak
    Dec 19, 2014 at 16:48
  • Isn't geopolitics a complex issue?
    – Jonas
    Dec 19, 2014 at 17:09
  • I never said it wasn't. But it's not a purely technical issue, in the narrow sense of something related to mathematics or hard science. I'm saying that the word "trivialise" is probably less suitable in the latter contexts (but fine for something like geopolitics or philosophy).
    – Deepak
    Dec 19, 2014 at 17:10

To gloss something means to provide a brief explanation of an obscure word of expression, and the word is commonly extended to ideas as as well. Of course, a brief explanation of a complex subject can't help but oversimplify it, otherwise it wouldn't be brief.

  • 1
    Most commonly used as "gloss over".
    – Deepak
    Dec 19, 2014 at 17:49

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