1 [pleyn]
adjective, plainer, plainest.
clear or distinct to the eye or ear: a plain trail to the river; to stand in plain view.
clear to the mind; evident, manifest, or obvious: to make one's meaning plain.
conveying the meaning clearly and simply; easily understood: plain talk.
downright; sheer; utter; self-evident: plain folly; plain stupidity.
free from ambiguity or evasion; candid; outspoken: the plain truth of the matter.
without special pretensions, superiority, elegance, etc.; ordinary: plain people.
not beautiful; physically unattractive or undistinguished: a plain face.
without intricacies or difficulties.
ordinary, simple, or unostentatious: Although she was a duchess, her manners were attractively plain.
with little or no embellishment, decoration, or enhancing elaboration: a plain blue suit.
without a pattern, figure, or device: a plain fabric.
not rich, highly seasoned, or elaborately prepared, as food: a plain diet.
flat or level: plain country.
unobstructed, clear, or open, as ground, a space, etc.
Cards. being other than a face card or a trump.
clearly and simply: He's just plain stupid.
an area of land not significantly higher than adjacent areas and with relatively minor differences in elevation, commonly less than 500 feet (150 meters), within the area.

1250–1300; Middle English (adj., adv., and noun) < Old French (adj. and noun) < Latin plānus flat, level, plānum flat country

plainly, adverb
plainness, noun

1, 2. lucid, understandable, intelligible, unmistakable, apparent, perspicuous. 2, 3. unambiguous, unequivocal, patent, transparent; direct. 5. unreserved, straightforward, blunt, frank, ingenuous, open, sincere. 6. unpretentious. 10. unadorned.

1. indistinct. 2. obscure. 13. hilly.

10. See homely. Unabridged


2 [pleyn]
verb (used without object) British Dialect.
to complain.

1250–1300; Middle English plei(g)nen < Old French plaign-, stem of plaindre < Latin plangere to beat (the breast, etc.), lament; akin to Greek plḗssein to strike Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
plain1 (pleɪn)
1.  flat or smooth; level
2.  not complicated; clear: the plain truth
3.  not difficult; simple or easy: a plain task
4.  honest or straightforward
5.  lowly, esp in social rank or education
6.  without adornment or show: a plain coat
7.  (of fabric) without pattern or of simple untwilled weave
8.  not attractive
9.  not mixed; simple: plain vodka
10.  knitting of or done in plain
11.  a level or almost level tract of country, esp an extensive treeless region
12.  a simple stitch in knitting made by putting the right needle into a loop on the left needle, passing the wool round the right needle, and pulling it through the loop, thus forming a new loop
13.  in billiards
 a.  the unmarked white ball, as distinguished from the spot balls
 b.  the player using this ball
14.  (in Ireland) short for plain porter, a light porter: two pints of plain, please
15.  (intensifier): just plain tired
[C13: from Old French: simple, from Latin plānus level, distinct, clear]

plain2 (pleɪn)
a dialect or poetic word for complain
[C14 pleignen, from Old French plaindre to lament, from Latin plangere to beat]

plains (pleɪnz)
pl n
chiefly (US) extensive tracts of level or almost level treeless countryside; prairies

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1300, "flat, smooth," from O.Fr. plain, from L. planus "flat, even, level" (see plane (1)). Sense of "evident" is from, c.1300; meaning "simple, sincere, ordinary" is recorded from late 14c. In reference to the dress and speech of Quakers, it is recorded from 1827; of Amish
and Mennonites, from 1904. Of appearance, as a euphemism for "ill-favored, ugly" it dates from 1749.

"level country," c.1300 (originally in ref. to Salisbury Plain), from O.Fr. plain, from L. planum "level ground, plain," properly neut. of adj. planus "flat, even, level" ((see plane (1)). L. planum was used for "level ground" but much more common was campus. Plains of the
American Midwest first so called 1684.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
plain   (plān)  Pronunciation Key 
  1. An extensive, relatively level area of land. Plains are present on all continents except Antarctica and are most often located in the interior regions. Because they can occur at almost any altitude or latitude, plains can be humid and forested, semiarid and grass-covered, or arid.

  2. A broad, level expanse, such as an area of the sea floor or a lunar mare.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Bible Dictionary

Plain definition

(1.) Heb. 'abel (Judg. 11:33), a "grassy plain" or "meadow." Instead of "plains of the vineyards," as in the Authorized Version, the Revised Version has "Abel-cheramim" (q.v.), comp. Judg. 11:22; 2 Chr. 16:4. (2.) Heb. 'elon (Gen. 12:6; 13:18; 14:13; 18:1; Deut. 11:30; Judg. 9:6), more correctly "oak," as in the Revised Version; margin, "terebinth." (3.) Heb. bik'ah (Gen. 11:2; Neh. 6:2; Ezek. 3:23; Dan. 3:1), properly a valley, as rendered in Isa. 40:4, a broad plain between mountains. In Amos 1:5 the margin of Authorized Version has "Bikathaven." (4.) Heb. kikar, "the circle," used only of the Ghor, or the low ground along the Jordan (Gen. 13:10-12; 19:17, 25, 28, 29; Deut. 34:3; 2 Sam. 18:23; 1 Kings 7:46; 2 Chr. 4:17; Neh. 3:22; 12:28), the floor of the valley through which it flows. This name is applied to the Jordan valley as far north as Succoth. (5.) Heb. mishor, "level ground," smooth, grassy table-land (Deut. 3:10; 4:43; Josh. 13:9, 16, 17, 21; 20:8; Jer. 48:21), an expanse of rolling downs without rock or stone. In these passages, with the article prefixed, it denotes the plain in the tribe of Reuben. In 2 Chr. 26:10 the plain of Judah is meant. Jerusalem is called "the rock of the plain" in Jer. 21:13, because the hills on which it is built rise high above the plain. (6.) Heb. 'arabah, the valley from the Sea of Galilee southward to the Dead Sea (the "sea of the plain," 2 Kings 14:25; Deut. 1:1; 2:8), a distance of about 70 miles. It is called by the modern Arabs the Ghor. This Hebrew name is found in Authorized Version (Josh. 18:18), and is uniformly used in the Revised Version. Down through the centre of this plain is a ravine, from 200 to 300 yards wide, and from 50 to 100 feet deep, through which the Jordan flows in a winding course. This ravine is called the "lower plain." The name Arabah is also applied to the whole Jordan valley from Mount Hermon to the eastern branch of the Red Sea, a distance of about 200 miles, as well as to that portion of the valley which stretches from the Sea of Galilee to the same branch of the Red Sea, i.e., to the Gulf of Akabah about 100 miles in all. (7.) Heb. shephelah, "low ground," "low hill-land," rendered "vale" or "valley" in Authorized Version (Josh. 9:1; 10:40; 11:2; 12:8; Judg. 1:9; 1 Kings 10:27). In Authorized Version (1 Chr. 27:28; 2 Chr. 26:10) it is also rendered "low country." In Jer. 17:26, Obad. 1:19, Zech. 7:7, "plain." The Revised Version renders it uniformly "low land." When it is preceded by the article, as in Deut. 1:7, Josh. 11:16; 15:33, Jer. 32:44; 33:13, Zech. 7:7, "the shephelah," it denotes the plain along the Mediterranean from Joppa to Gaza, "the plain of the Philistines." (See VALLEY.)

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Example sentences
The flat coastal plains of the south give way to valleys, then hills and
  mountains toward the middle and north.
Firms are proposing ambitious transmission lines across the plains.
It has a mountainous central plateau and coastal plains.
They were regarded as the premier horse thieves of the plains.
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