1. one of the system of branching vessels or tubes conveying blood from various parts of the body to the heart.
  2. (loosely) any blood vessel.
  3. one of the riblike thickenings that form the framework of the wing of an insect.
  4. one of the strands or bundles of vascular tissue forming the principal framework of a leaf.
  5. any body or stratum of ore, coal, etc., clearly separated or defined: a rich vein of coal.
  6. a body or mass of igneous rock, deposited mineral, or the like occupying a crevice or fissure in rock; lode.
  7. a natural channel or watercourse beneath the surface of the earth.
  8. the water running through such a channel.
  9. a streak or marking, as of a different shade or color, running through marble, wood, etc.
  10. a condition, mood, or temper: a vein of pessimism.
  11. a tendency, quality, or strain traceable in character, conduct, writing, etc.; manner or style: to write in a poetic vein.
verb (used with object)
  1. to furnish with veins.
  2. to mark with lines or streaks suggesting veins.
  3. to extend over or through in the manner of veins: Broad new highways vein the countryside.

Origin of vein

1250–1300; Middle English veine < Old French < Latin vēna vein of the body, channel, ore deposit
Related formsvein·al, adjectivevein·less, adjectivevein·like, adjectivein·ter·vein, verb (used with object)in·ter·vein·al, adjectivesub·vein, nounun·veined, adjective
Can be confusedvain vane vein

Synonyms for vein Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for veins

Contemporary Examples of veins

Historical Examples of veins

  • My very blood boiled in my veins, that such an one as he could give me pain.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • There is no passion in your veins; it is only a sort of sympathetic selfishness.


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • I am no friend of his, nor he of mine; but he has warm blood in his veins.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • Never had the pulse beat stronger in my veins then at that moment.

  • Dr. Clevenger first discusses the position of the valves in the veins.

British Dictionary definitions for veins


  1. any of the tubular vessels that convey oxygen-depleted blood to the heartCompare pulmonary vein, artery Related adjective: venous
  2. any of the hollow branching tubes that form the supporting framework of an insect's wing
  3. any of the vascular strands of a leaf
  4. a clearly defined mass of ore, mineral, etc, filling a fault or fracture, often with a tabular or sheetlike shape
  5. an irregular streak of colour or alien substance in marble, wood, or other material
  6. a natural underground watercourse
  7. a crack or fissure
  8. a distinctive trait or quality in speech, writing, character, etc; straina vein of humour
  9. a temporary disposition, attitude, or temper; moodthe debate entered a frivolous vein
  10. Irish a parting in hair
verb (tr)
  1. to diffuse over or cause to diffuse over in streaked patterns
  2. to fill, furnish, or mark with or as if with veins
Derived Formsveinal, adjectiveveinless, adjectiveveinlike, adjectiveveiny, adjective

Word Origin for vein

C13: from Old French veine, from Latin vēna
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 veins



c.1300, from Old French veine, from Latin vena "a blood vessel," also "a water course, a vein of metal, a person's natural ability or interest," of unknown origin. The mining sense is attested in English from late 14c. (Greek phleps "vein" had the same secondary sense). Figurative sense of "strain or intermixture" (of some quality) is recorded from 1560s; that of "a humor or mood, natural tendency" is first recorded 1570s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

veins in Medicine


  1. Any of the branching blood vessels carrying blood toward the heart. All veins except the pulmonary vein carry dark unaerated blood.
  1. To supply or fill with veins.
Related formsveinal adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

veins in Science


  1. Any of the blood vessels that carry blood toward the heart from the body's cells, tissues, and organs. Veins are thin-walled and contain valves that prevent the backflow of blood. All veins except the pulmonary vein carry blood with low levels of oxygen.
  2. One of the narrow, usually branching tubes or supporting parts forming the framework of an insect's wing or a leaf. Veins in insect wings carry hemolymph and contain a nerve. Veins in leaves contain vascular tissue, with the xylem usually occurring on the upper side of the vein (bringing in water and nutrients) and the phloem on the lower side (carrying away food). See more at leaf venation.
  3. A long, narrow deposit of mineral or rock that fills the void formed by a fracture or fault in another rock. The mineralogy of the host rock surrounding the vein is often altered where it is in contact with the vein because of chemical reactions between the two rock types.
Related formsvenous adjective (nəs)
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

veins in Culture


Blood vessels that return blood from the body tissues to the heart. (Compare arteries; see circulatory system.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.