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vain

[veyn] /veɪn/
adjective, vainer, vainest.
1.
excessively proud of or concerned about one's own appearance, qualities, achievements, etc.; conceited:
a vain dandy.
2.
proceeding from or showing pride in or concern about one's appearance, qualities, etc.; resulting from or displaying vanity:
He made some vain remarks about his accomplishments.
3.
ineffectual or unsuccessful; futile:
vain hopes; a vain effort; a vain war.
4.
without real significance, value, or importance; baseless or worthless:
vain pageantry; vain display.
5.
Archaic. senseless or foolish.
Idioms
6.
in vain,
  1. without effect or avail; to no purpose:
    lives lost in vain; to apologize in vain.
  2. in an improper or irreverent manner:
    to take God's name in vain.
Origin of vain
1250-1300
1250-1300; Middle English < Old French < Latin vānus empty, vain
Related forms
vainly, adverb
vainness, noun
unvain, adjective
unvainly, adverb
unvainness, noun
Can be confused
vain, vane, vein.
Synonyms
1. egotistical, self-complacent, vainglorious, proud, arrogant, overweening. 3. fruitless, unavailing. 4. unimportant, trivial, trifling, nugatory. See useless.
Antonyms
1. humble. 3. useful.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for vainer
Historical Examples
  • Every one admired him, and a vainer puss never caught a mouse.

    Aunt Jo's Scrap-Bag, Vol. 5 Louisa M. Alcott
  • That winter passed with Mary in vain longing and vainer hopes.

    Evenings at Donaldson Manor Maria J. McIntosh
  • The words might have made a vainer man than he was much happier than they did him.

    The Grateful Indian W.H.G. Kingston
  • According to Jorrocks, hunting men must be vainer than we are, for we do not wear pink.

    The Horsewoman Alice M. Hayes
  • Was not life becoming to him vainer and still vainer every day?

    Ralph the Heir

    Anthony Trollope
  • If I were vainer, I should rejoice at what you say of my diamond.

    Letters to an Unknown Prosper Mrime
  • We are as vain as women, if not vainer, without their capacity for concealing it.

    The Great God Success John Graham (David Graham Phillips)
  • Vain and vainer than ever now that he was straying towards the external clouds.

    Very Woman

    Remy de Gourmont
  • "Oh, Alfred, no; I only said no vainer," cried Julia in dismay.

    Hard Cash Charles Reade
  • Afy Hallijohn was sailing up the street in its beams, finer and vainer than ever.

    East Lynne Mrs. Henry Wood
British Dictionary definitions for vainer

vain

/veɪn/
adjective
1.
inordinately proud of one's appearance, possessions, or achievements
2.
given to ostentatious display, esp of one's beauty
3.
worthless
4.
senseless or futile
noun
5.
in vain, to no avail; fruitlessly
6.
take someone's name in vain
  1. to use the name of someone, esp God, without due respect or reverence
  2. (jocular) to mention someone's name
Derived Forms
vainly, adverb
vainness, noun
Word Origin
C13: via Old French from Latin vānus
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 vainer

vain

adj.

c.1300, "devoid of real value, idle, unprofitable," from Old French vein "worthless," from Latin vanus "idle, empty," from PIE *wa-no-, from root *eue- "to leave, abandon, give out" (cf. Old English wanian "to lessen," wan "deficient;" Old Norse vanta "to lack;" Latin vacare "to be empty," vastus "empty, waste;" Avestan va- "lack," Persian vang "empty, poor;" Sanskrit una- "deficient"). Meaning "conceited" first recorded 1690s, from earlier sense of "silly, idle, foolish" (late 14c.). Phrase in vain "to no effect" (c.1300, after Latin in vanum) preserves the original sense. Related: Vainly.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with vainer
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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