\ ˈplān How to pronounce plain (audio) \

Definition of plain

 (Entry 1 of 5)

1 : lacking ornament : undecorated
2 : free of extraneous matter : pure
3 : free of impediments to view : unobstructed
4a(1) : evident to the mind or senses : obvious it's perfectly plain that they will resist
(2) : clear let me make my meaning plain
b : marked by outspoken candor : free from duplicity or subtlety : blunt plain talk
5a : belonging to the masses : common
b : lacking special distinction or affectation : ordinary
6 : characterized by simplicity : not complicated plain home-cooked meals
7 : lacking beauty or ugliness
8 archaic : even, level



Definition of plain (Entry 2 of 5)

1a : an extensive area of level or rolling treeless country
b : a broad unbroken expanse
2 : something free from artifice, ornament, or extraneous matter


adverb (1)

Definition of plain (Entry 3 of 5)

: in a plain manner : without obscurity or ambiguity saw them clearly and told you plainAmer. Documentation


adverb (2)

Definition of plain (Entry 4 of 5)

: absolutely sense 1a plain wrong


plained; plaining; plains

Definition of plain (Entry 5 of 5)

Other Words from plain


plainly adverb
plainness \ ˈplān-​nəs How to pronounce plain (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for plain


common, ordinary, plain, familiar, popular, vulgar mean generally met with and not in any way special, strange, or unusual. common implies usual everyday quality or frequency of occurrence a common error lacked common honesty and may additionally suggest inferiority or coarseness. common manners ordinary stresses conformance in quality or kind with the regular order of things. an ordinary pleasant summer day a very ordinary sort of man plain is likely to suggest homely simplicity. plain hard-working people familiar stresses the fact of being generally known and easily recognized. a familiar melody popular applies to what is accepted by or prevalent among people in general sometimes in contrast to upper classes or special groups. a writer of popular romances vulgar, otherwise similar to popular, is likely to carry derogatory connotations (as of inferiority or coarseness). souvenirs designed to appeal to the vulgar taste

evident, manifest, patent, distinct, obvious, apparent, plain, clear mean readily perceived or apprehended. evident implies presence of visible signs that lead one to a definite conclusion. an evident fondness for sweets manifest implies an external display so evident that little or no inference is required. manifest hostility patent applies to a cause, effect, or significant feature that is clear and unmistakable once attention has been directed to it. patent defects distinct implies such sharpness of outline or definition that no unusual effort to see or hear or comprehend is required. a distinct refusal obvious implies such ease in discovering that it often suggests conspicuousness or little need for perspicacity in the observer. the obvious solution apparent is very close to evident except that it may imply more conscious exercise of inference. for no apparent reason plain suggests lack of intricacy, complexity, or elaboration. her feelings about him are plain clear implies an absence of anything that confuses the mind or obscures the pattern. a clear explanation

frank, candid, open, plain mean showing willingness to tell what one feels or thinks. frank stresses lack of shyness or secretiveness or of evasiveness from considerations of tact or expedience. frank discussions candid suggests expression marked by sincerity and honesty especially in offering unwelcome criticism or opinion. a candid appraisal open implies frankness but suggests more indiscretion than frank and less earnestness than candid. open in saying what they think plain suggests outspokenness and freedom from affectation or subtlety in expression. plain talk

Examples of plain in a Sentence

Adjective It was a plain room with no curtains. She was wearing plain black shoes. He printed the picture on plain paper. a piece of plain chicken You don't have to call me Mr. Johnson—just plain Fred will be fine. What he said is a lie, plain and simple. Noun the Great Plains of the United States the first settlers in that area lived on the vast plains in lonely log cabins See More

First Known Use of plain


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 8


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Adverb (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Adverb (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined above


14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for plain


Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin planum, from neuter of planus flat, plain — more at floor

Adverb (2)

partly from Middle English plein entire, complete, from Anglo-French, full, from Latin plenus; partly from plain entry 3 — more at full


Middle English, from Anglo-French pleindre, plaindre, from Latin plangere to lament — more at plaint

Learn More About plain

Time Traveler for plain

Time Traveler

The first known use of plain was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near plain



plain base

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Cite this Entry

“Plain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for plain


\ ˈplān How to pronounce plain (audio) \
plainer; plainest

Kids Definition of plain

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : having no pattern or decoration a plain jacket
2 : not handsome or beautiful
3 : not hard to do or understand The lesson was explained in plain words. The directions were plain.
4 : without anything having been added He eats plain yogurt.
5 : open and clear to the sight I left my money in plain view.
6 : frank The judge is famous for her plain speaking.
7 : of common or average accomplishments or position : ordinary just plain folks

Other Words from plain

plainly adverb
plainness noun



Kids Definition of plain (Entry 2 of 3)

: a large area of level or rolling treeless land



Kids Definition of plain (Entry 3 of 3)

: without any question : to a complete degree … she's just plain jealous when I'm at the piano and she's not.— Karen Hesse, Out of the Dust

More from Merriam-Webster on plain

Nglish: Translation of plain for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of plain for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about plain


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