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plain1

[pleyn] /pleɪn/
adjective, plainer, plainest.
1.
clear or distinct to the eye or ear:
a plain trail to the river; to stand in plain view.
2.
clear to the mind; evident, manifest, or obvious:
to make one's meaning plain.
3.
conveying the meaning clearly and simply; easily understood:
plain talk.
4.
downright; sheer; utter; self-evident:
plain folly; plain stupidity.
5.
free from ambiguity or evasion; candid; outspoken:
the plain truth of the matter.
6.
without special pretensions, superiority, elegance, etc.; ordinary:
plain people.
7.
not beautiful; physically unattractive or undistinguished:
a plain face.
8.
without intricacies or difficulties.
9.
ordinary, simple, or unostentatious:
Although she was a duchess, her manners were attractively plain.
10.
with little or no embellishment, decoration, or enhancing elaboration:
a plain blue suit.
11.
without a pattern, figure, or device:
a plain fabric.
12.
not rich, highly seasoned, or elaborately prepared, as food:
a plain diet.
13.
flat or level:
plain country.
14.
unobstructed, clear, or open, as ground, a space, etc.
15.
Cards. being other than a face card or a trump.
adverb
16.
clearly and simply:
He's just plain stupid.
noun
17.
an area of land not significantly higher than adjacent areas and with relatively minor differences in elevation, commonly less than 500 feet (150 meters), within the area.
18.
The Plains. Great Plains.
Origin of plain1
1250-1300
1250-1300; Middle English (adj., adv., and noun) < Old French (adj. and noun) < Latin plānus flat, level, plānum flat country
Related forms
plainly, adverb
plainness, noun
Can be confused
plain, plan, plane.
Synonyms
1, 2. lucid, understandable, intelligible, unmistakable, apparent, perspicuous. 2, 3. unambiguous, unequivocal, patent, transparent; direct. 5. unreserved, straightforward, blunt, frank, ingenuous, open, sincere. 6. unpretentious. 10. unadorned.
Antonyms
1. indistinct. 2. obscure. 13. hilly.
Synonym Study
10. See homely.

plain2

[pleyn] /pleɪn/
verb (used without object), British Dialect.
1.
to complain.
Origin
1250-1300; Middle English plei(g)nen < Old French plaign-, stem of plaindre < Latin plangere to beat (the breast, etc.), lament; akin to Greek plḗssein to strike
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for plain
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The track was plain enough, and there were hamlets at long intervals.

    The Armourer's Prentices Charlotte M. Yonge
  • Aye, lad, and the plain things are always the hardest things to do.

    Way of the Lawless Max Brand
  • A plain case, that he had left his curiosity with me, and designed to shew me no other.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9) Samuel Richardson
  • It's a shirt and a plain stocking were got off a drowned man in Donegal.

    Riders to the Sea J. M. Synge
  • One thing is plain, you must either go to them, or unlock the cellar-door.

    Weighed and Wanting George MacDonald
British Dictionary definitions for plain

plain1

/pleɪn/
adjective
1.
flat or smooth; level
2.
not complicated; clear: the plain truth
3.
not difficult; simple or easy: a plain task
4.
honest or straightforward
5.
lowly, esp in social rank or education
6.
without adornment or show: a plain coat
7.
(of fabric) without pattern or of simple untwilled weave
8.
not attractive
9.
not mixed; simple: plain vodka
10.
(knitting) of or done in plain
noun
11.
a level or almost level tract of country, esp an extensive treeless region
12.
a simple stitch in knitting made by putting the right needle into a loop on the left needle, passing the wool round the right needle, and pulling it through the loop, thus forming a new loop
13.
(in billiards)
  1. the unmarked white ball, as distinguished from the spot balls
  2. the player using this ball
14.
(in Ireland) short for plain porter, a light porter: two pints of plain, please
adverb
15.
(intensifier): just plain tired
See also plains
Derived Forms
plainly, adverb
plainness, noun
Word Origin
C13: from Old French: simple, from Latin plānus level, distinct, clear

plain2

/pleɪn/
verb
1.
a dialect or poetic word for complain
Word Origin
C14 pleignen, from Old French plaindre to lament, from Latin plangere to beat
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for plain
adj.

c.1300, "flat, smooth," from Old French plain "flat, smooth, even" (12c.), from Latin planus "flat, even, level" (see plane (n.1)). Sense of "evident" is from, c.1300; that of "free from obstruction" is early 14c.; meaning "simple, sincere, ordinary" is recorded from late 14c., especially of dress, "unembellished, without decoration."

In reference to the dress and speech of Quakers, it is recorded from 1824; of Amish and Mennonites, from 1894 (in the Dutch regions of Pennsylvania Plain with the capital is shorthand adjective for "Amish and Old Order Mennonite"). Of appearance, as a euphemism for "ill-favored, ugly" it dates from 1749. Of envelopes from 1913. As an adverb from early 14c. Plain English is from c.1500. Plain dealer "one who deals plainly or speaks candidly" is from 1570s, marked "Now rare" in OED 2nd edition. To be as plain as the nose on (one's) face is from 1690s.

n.

"level country," c.1300 (in reference to Salisbury Plain), from Old French plain "open countryside," from Latin planum "level ground, plain," noun use of neuter of planus (adj.) "flat, even, level" (see plane (n.1)). Latin planum was used for "level ground" but much more common was campus.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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plain in Science
plain
  (plān)   
  1. An extensive, relatively level area of land. Plains are present on all continents except Antarctica and are most often located in the interior regions. Because they can occur at almost any altitude or latitude, plains can be humid and forested, semiarid and grass-covered, or arid.

  2. A broad, level expanse, such as an area of the sea floor or a lunar mare.


The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Idioms and Phrases with plain
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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