- excessively proud of or concerned about one's own appearance, qualities, achievements, etc.; conceited: a vain dandy.
- 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.
- ineffectual or unsuccessful; futile: vain hopes; a vain effort; a vain war.
- without real significance, value, or importance; baseless or worthless: vain pageantry; vain display.
- Archaic. senseless or foolish.
- in vain,
- without effect or avail; to no purpose: lives lost in vain; to apologize in vain.
- in an improper or irreverent manner: to take God's name in vain.
Origin of vain
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for vainly
Truth be told, the hope of destroying the rubes by ignoring them vainly ignores the most inescapable fact of our lives.From Smarm To Snark, We’re All Soldiers In The War On Obscurity
December 7, 2013
The old bulls sensed the cnunbling of their position and vainly tried to placate the reformers.Memo: The Aaron Sorkin Model of Political Discourse Doesn't Actually Work
April 23, 2013
As Hudson vainly tried to save Lopez, the Honda roared away on just the wheel rims.Cop Who Protected Obama, Romney, at Debate Latest Victim of Illegal Guns
October 25, 2012
Can we justify manicures and tasteful highlights when others are vainly looking for work?But Can We Still Have Fun?
January 19, 2009
"But I'm not miserable, my dear Viviette," said poor Dick, vainly forcing a smile.Viviette
William J. Locke
Perhaps here she found the repose hitherto so vainly sought.Biographical Sketches
"My place is by the flag," cried Alleyne, vainly struggling to break from the other's hold.The White Company
Arthur Conan Doyle
He was vainly entreated not to expose himself to the infection.Cameos from English History, from Rollo to Edward II
Charlotte Mary Yonge
The chair was placed, and Miss Lucindy essayed to climb, but vainly.Meadow Grass
- inordinately proud of one's appearance, possessions, or achievements
- given to ostentatious display, esp of one's beauty
- senseless or futile
- in vain to no avail; fruitlessly
- take someone's name in vain
- to use the name of someone, esp God, without due respect or reverence
- jocularto mention someone's name
Word Origin and History for vainly
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.