vain

[veyn]
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adjective, vain·er, vain·est.

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.

Idioms

    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; 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 for vain

Antonyms for vain

1. humble. 3. useful.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for vainly

unsuccessfully, futilely, ineffectually, uselessly

Examples from the Web for vainly

Contemporary Examples of vainly

Historical Examples of vainly

  • "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

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • "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.

  • The chair was placed, and Miss Lucindy essayed to climb, but vainly.

    Meadow Grass

    Alice Brown


British Dictionary definitions for vainly

vain

adjective

inordinately proud of one's appearance, possessions, or achievements
given to ostentatious display, esp of one's beauty
worthless
senseless or futile

noun

in vain to no avail; fruitlessly
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
Derived Formsvainly, adverbvainness, noun

Word Origin for vain

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 vainly

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

Idioms and Phrases with vainly

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.