Garner's Usage Tip of the Day: simplistic.

simplistic. “Simplistic,” a pejorative adjective meaning “oversimple, facile,” became a vogue word during the 1980s and 1990s: “With adults, a word catches on and it becomes a hobbyhorse that we ride to death. Remember when early critics of President Reagan’s economic plans called them ‘simplistic’? It was a word seldom used until then, but once let loose in the ’80s, it was on every tongue. When someone didn’t like something but couldn’t articulate why, he’d call it ‘simplistic.'” Michael Skube, “Let’s Bring Closure to Adult Slang, Which Just Isn’t Cool,” Atlanta J.-Const., 17 June 1997, at B3. Some misuse the word as a synonym for “simple” — that is, not as a pejorative at all. E.g.: o “Replay is not the answer. That sounds like a nice, simplistic [read ‘simple’] fix but what the NFL really needs is to improve its officiating and have better coordination among the officials.” Ira Miller, “Replay Not Answer to Many Blown Calls,” S.F. Chron., 6 Oct. 1995, at E3. o “‘We try to be simplistic [read ‘simple’] in our pricing and we try to keep it simplistic [read ‘simple’] for our new releases,’ he says.” Diane Garrett, “What Is a New Release?” Video Store, 15 June 1997, at 14 (quoting Craig Wilson, a Seattle video-store owner). *"Too simplistic" is a venial redundancy — e.g.: “Tom Dimmit, principal of Golden High School in the Jefferson County school district, says even that [proposal] is too simplistic [omit ‘too’].” Janet Simons, “The Great Homework Debate,” Rocky Mountain News (Denver), 17 Aug. 1997, at F5. Language-Change Index — “simplistic” in the nonpejorative sense “simple”: Stage 2. *Invariably inferior forms. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “If you believe . . . that ‘naturalness is unnatural, and informality is unacceptable,’ then no amount of reasoning will persuade you that contractions have a place in serious writing.” John R. Trimble, Writing with Style 86 (2d ed. 2000).
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