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vain

[veyn]
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.
  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.
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Idioms
  1. 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.
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Origin of vain

1250–1300; Middle English < Old French < Latin vānus empty, vain
Related formsvain·ly, adverbvain·ness, nounun·vain, adjectiveun·vain·ly, adverbun·vain·ness, noun
Can be confusedvain vane vein

Synonyms

Antonyms

1. humble. 3. useful.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

cockyarrogantfruitlesspettytrivialfrivolousboastfulconceitedegocentrichaughtyinflatednarcissisticostentatiousoverweeningproudself-importantstuck-upvaingloriousegoistichigh-and-mighty

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.

  • 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


British Dictionary definitions for vainer

vain

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
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noun
  1. in vain to no avail; fruitlessly
  2. take someone's name in vain
    1. to use the name of someone, esp God, without due respect or reverence
    2. jocularto mention someone's name
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Derived Formsvainly, adverbvainness, 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

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with vainer

vain

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

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