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vain

[veyn] /veɪn/
adjective, vainer, vainest.
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.
Idioms
6.
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
1250-1300
1250-1300; Middle English < Old French < Latin vānus empty, vain
Related forms
vainly, adverb
vainness, noun
unvain, adjective
unvainly, adverb
unvainness, noun
Can be confused
vain, vane, vein.
Synonyms
1. egotistical, self-complacent, vainglorious, proud, arrogant, overweening. 3. fruitless, unavailing. 4. unimportant, trivial, trifling, nugatory. See useless.
Antonyms
1. humble. 3. useful.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for in vain
  • Attempts to contact the powers in charge of the contest have been in vain.
  • Pray for unity and world peace, so that these precious losses will not have been in vain.
  • After decades spent searching in vain, many seismologists now doubt whether such a signal even exists.
  • It s my understanding that one will seek in vain for a beneficial mutation.
  • Regardless of your scientific knowledge you must bring things back to a designer or your faith is in vain.
  • He applied in vain to several engineering firms in the area.
  • Against stupidity, the gods themselves labor in vain.
  • Show giraffe trying in vain to reach a piece of fruit high on a tree branch.
  • After shopping the jewel around in vain, she gave up.
  • The dead's survivors insisted that their soldiers had not died in vain.
British Dictionary definitions for in vain

vain

/veɪn/
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
noun
5.
in vain, to no avail; fruitlessly
6.
take someone's name in vain
  1. to use the name of someone, esp God, without due respect or reverence
  2. (jocular) to mention someone's name
Derived Forms
vainly, adverb
vainness, 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
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Word Origin and History for in vain
vain
c.1300, "devoid of real value, idle, unprofitable," from O.Fr. vein "worthless," from L. vanus "idle, empty," from PIE *wa-no-, from base *eue- "to leave, abandon, give out" (cf. O.E. wanian "to lessen," wan "deficient;" O.N. vanta "to lack;" L. vacare "to be empty," vastus "empty, waste;" Avestan va- "lack," Pers. vang "empty, poor;" Skt. una- "deficient"). Meaning "conceited" first recorded 1692, from earlier sense of "silly, idle, foolish" (1390). Phrase in vain "to no effect" (c.1300, after L. in vanum) preserves the original sense.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with in vain
To no avail, useless, as in All our work was in vain. [ c. 1300 ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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