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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 of vain
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. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for vainest
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • These commandments and these penalties would disgrace the vainest tyrant that ever sat, by chance, upon a throne.

    Mistakes of Moses Robert G. Ingersoll
  • No, but the girl does; she's the haughtiest and the vainest damsel in the province.

    That Boy Of Norcott's Charles James Lever
  • Such were the eyes of Domitian, the vainest, most inert, and cowardly of men.

  • He was here in 1835, when he thought the American people were the vainest in the world of their country.

    Captains of Industry James Parton
  • Moreover, he was one of the vainest men that ever wore a crown.

    A History of Germany Bayard Taylor
  • And the Germans, the vainest race in Europe, rose like catfish to the bait.

    Old Fogy James Huneker
  • But it is vainest of all to suppose that we can buy our way into the respect and liking of the American people.

  • The Fender told me one night I was the vainest creature he ever knew.

    Andiron Tales John Kendrick Bangs
  • As for my friend, she used to be the vainest young thing in Rome, and now she cares nothing for the world and its vanities.

    The Eternal City Hall Caine
British Dictionary definitions for vainest

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 vainest

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 vainest
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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