Too often I hear people use “simplistic” when they really mean “simple.” These two words are not synonyms; “simplistic” is not a fancy way of saying “simple.”
“Simple” means easy to understand, not overly complicated.(You knew that.)
“Simplistic” means overly simple, making a complicated situation seem easier than it actually is: “Alleviating the drought would be easy if people would just turn off the water when they brush their teeth.”
Simple, right? Einstein was saying, “Make it simple but not simplistic.”
Recently, I’ve heard people use “simplistic” when they meant “simple.” I searched my blog and found this post from a year ago and think it’s worth repeating.
I have written about the difference between long and lengthy and how the latter has a negative connotation, implying something is going on longer than it needs to. A long speech may be hard to listen to, but a lengthy one may verge on torture. Most people use lengthy (or God forbid, lengthly) because they think it sounds more professional. It isn’t.
The same can be said about simplistic. It is not a fancy-schmancy way to say simple. It means something that is overly simple, and therefore inadequate. Roger’s simplistic explanation left the audience with more questions than answers.
Don’t write (or talk) to impress. Your goal is to be clear and understood. Isn’t that what you want from others’ communications?