Simple Definition of vain
: too proud of your own appearance, abilities, achievements, etc.
: having no success : not producing a desired result
Full Definition of vain
1 : to no end : without success or result <her efforts were in vain>
2 : in an irreverent or blasphemous manner <you shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain — Deuteronomy 5:11 (Revised Standard Version)>
Examples of vain
For a half a century, scholars have searched in vain for the source of the jade that the early civilizations of the Americas prized above all else and fashioned into precious objects of worship, trade and adornment. —William J. Broad, New York Times, 22 May 2002
… the miseries of people's lives ought not to be exploited ad libitum in the furtherance of our profits or our careers, and in the vain conviction that we understand everything. —Richard Taruskin, New Republic, 24 Dec. 2001
It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquillity: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it. —Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre, 1847
Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us. —Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, 1813
Where words are scarce, they are seldom spent in vain … —William Shakespeare, King Richard the Second, 1596
She is very vain about her appearance.
He is the vainest man I know.
A vain effort to quell the public's fears only made matters worse.
Volunteers searched the area in the vain hope of finding clues.
Origin of vain
Middle English, from Anglo-French, empty, futile, from Latin vanus — more at wane
First Known Use: 14th century
Synonym Discussion of vain
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