Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

basic - definition and synonyms

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

adjective     basic pronunciation in American English
  1. 1
    forming the main or most important part of something, without which it cannot really exist

    Rice is the basic ingredient of the dish.

    We have the basic framework for an agreement.

    basic to:

    Honesty and trust are basic to a good relationship.

    1. a.
      basic ideas or skills are the ones you must know or learn in order to understand or do something

      Once you’ve mastered the basic principles of using a computer, you can move on.

    2. b.
      used for emphasizing that you are talking about the most important part of a situation

      The basic question is how long can this go on?

      There are two basic choices: make a fuss or do nothing.

      Synonyms and related words
  2. 2
    basic products and services are ones that everyone needs such as food, medicine, and fuel

    Basic foods such as soy beans and rice were being flown into the disaster zone.

    The state provides only basic health care.

    The money they earned did not even cover their most basic needs.

    1. a.
      basic feelings are the natural feelings that everyone has

      the basic instinct for survival

    2. b.
      basic rights are rights that everyone should be allowed to have

      Free speech is a basic human right.

  3. 3
    simple and with no special features

    The accommodations are rather basic.

    1. a.
      not very advanced, or not very complicated

      My French is pretty basic, but I can get by.

  4. From our crowdsourced Open Dictionary
    thinking that your tastes or possessions are cool and special when in fact they are ordinary

    27 signs you’re dating a basic bitch

    Being basic is liking what it is typical to like.

    Submitted from United Kingdom on 23/12/2015
quiz invitation
  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Open Dictionary

patio diplomacy

high-level diplomats meeting and dining in an informal environment e.g. a party or club

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play