vain

[veyn]
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,
a.
without effect or avail; to no purpose: lives lost in vain; to apologize in vain.
b.
in an improper or irreverent manner: to take God's name in vain.

Origin:
1250–1300; Middle English < Old French < Latin vānus empty, vain

vainly, adverb
vainness, noun
unvain, adjective
unvainly, adverb
unvainness, noun

vain, vane, vein.


1. egotistical, self-complacent, vainglorious, proud, arrogant, overweening. 3. fruitless, unavailing. 4. unimportant, trivial, trifling, nugatory. See useless.


1. humble. 3. useful.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
vain (veɪn)
 
adj
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
 
n
5.  in vain to no avail; fruitlessly
6.  take someone's name in vain
 a.  to use the name of someone, esp God, without due respect or reverence
 b.  jocular to mention someone's name
 
[C13: via Old French from Latin vānus]
 
'vainly
 
adv
 
'vainness
 
n

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

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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Example sentences
The helpless creature exhaled with the sound of a dolphin, trying vainly to
  breathe in the foreign air.
To no end gathered: vainly then released, forth flowing, wending back: loom of
  the moon.
The automated weaving looms that they vainly tried to destroy did end up
  replacing them, and their livelihood died off.
Poets often wait vainly in the dew, from sunset till dawn, to hear the strange
  cry which has inspired so many exquisite verses.
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