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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 from the web for vain
  • Pray for unity and world peace, so that these precious losses will not have been in vain.
  • When vain folks sign up for a service so they can be rated by a group of narcissistic pretty people this is bound to happen.
  • The robot nosed around the seafloor in vain looking for the elevator.
  • The dead's survivors insisted that their soldiers had not died in vain.
  • If this was the outcome, all the sacrifices had been in vain.
  • Show giraffe trying in vain to reach a piece of fruit high on a tree branch.
  • Of course, he is a hint too vain for the prescription.
  • One searches the letters in vain for thoughts on the place of the writer in society.
  • He himself notices how he gets off the track, and he tries in vain to bring himself back.
  • Eve, come away, and let us not believe these vain delusions.
British Dictionary definitions for 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 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
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Idioms and Phrases with vain
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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