[ veyn ]
See synonyms for: vainvainlyvainness on

adjective,vain·er, vain·est.
  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.

  1. ineffectual or unsuccessful; futile: vain hopes;a vain effort;a vain war.

  2. without real significance, value, or importance; baseless or worthless: vain pageantry;vain display.

  3. Archaic. senseless or foolish.

Idioms about vain

  1. 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

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English, from Old French, from Latin vānus “empty, vain”

synonym study For vain

4. See useless.

Other words for vain

Opposites for vain

Other words from vain

  • vain·ly, adverb
  • vain·ness, noun
  • un·vain·, adjective
  • un·vain·ness, noun

Words that may be confused with vain

Words Nearby vain Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use vain in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for vain


/ (veɪn) /

  1. inordinately proud of one's appearance, possessions, or achievements

  2. given to ostentatious display, esp of one's beauty

  1. worthless

  2. senseless or futile

  1. in vain to no avail; fruitlessly

  2. take someone's name in vain

    • to use the name of someone, esp God, without due respect or reverence

    • jocular to mention someone's name

Origin of vain

C13: via Old French from Latin vānus

Derived forms of vain

  • vainly, adverb
  • vainness, noun

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with vain


see in vain; take someone's name in vain.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.