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vain

[veyn]
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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 for vain

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Antonyms for vain

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


Examples from the Web for vainness

Historical Examples of vainness

  • His was a curious temperament, and this sentimentality, born of vainness and idle hours, by no means expressed it all.

    Lysbeth

    H. Rider Haggard


British Dictionary definitions for vainness

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 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 vainness

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 vainness

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.