vanity

noun
van·​i·​ty | \ ˈva-nə-tē How to pronounce vanity (audio) \
plural vanities

Definition of vanity

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : inflated pride in oneself or one's appearance : conceit
2 : something that is vain, empty, or valueless
b : a bathroom cabinet containing a sink and usually having a countertop
4 : the quality or fact of being vain
5 : a fashionable trifle or knickknack
b : a small case or handbag for toilet articles used by women

vanity

adjective

Definition of vanity (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : of, relating to, or being a work (such as a book or recording) whose production cost is paid by the author or artist
2 : of, relating to, or being a showcase for a usually famous performer or artist who is often also the project's creator or driving force write, direct, and star in a vanity film

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Vanity vs. Pride

People often turn to the dictionary in search of the minute and subtle differences between two similar words. The closely related duo of vanity and pride, which overlap significantly in some respects yet differ in others, offer one such example. Putting aside such uses as pride referring to “a company of lions” and vanity meaning “a dressing table,” each of these words may refer to a state of excessive self-esteem. However, pride may also signify a feeling of satisfaction or happiness (either in oneself or on behalf of others) based on something that is well done; vanity is unlikely to be used in this manner. For a well-worded explanation of this distinction, we might look to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, in which the character Mary opines: “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.”

Examples of vanity in a Sentence

Noun

The handsome actor's vanity was well-known. She described her accomplishments without exaggeration or vanity.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In other words, Poseidon is less a doomsday torpedo, more a vanity project to impress the neighbors. David Hambling, Popular Mechanics, "The Truth Behind Russia’s 'Apocalypse Torpedo'," 18 Jan. 2019 And the number of man-hours the average super-hot person spends maintaining their appearance suggests an earnest level of both hard work and vanity. Anna Peele, GQ, "Introducing the Hot-Funny Guy Matrix," 12 Apr. 2018 Never mind that Zaphod Beeblebrox had a third arm and a second head surgically implanted beside his original head (for vanity reasons). Steven Brykman, Ars Technica, "Douglas Adams was right: “Genuine people personalities” are coming to our gadgets," 22 Dec. 2018 The surfaces can be customized by color, size, and shape and used in a range of applications, from tabletops to backsplashes to bathroom vanities. Jennifer Fernandez, House Beautiful, "This Company Is Making Gorgeous Terrazzo Furnishings Out Of Recycled Marble," 11 Dec. 2018 But also, a guy like perennial candidate Greg Orman could stop running vanity statewide races in Kansas and win a House seat. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "Proportional representation could save America," 15 Oct. 2018 For Latina moms, piercing their baby girls’ ears has nothing to do with vanity. PEOPLE.com, "Kylie Jenner Pierces 5-Month-Old Daughter Stormi's Ears: How Safe Is the Procedure for Babies?," 12 July 2018 Scorpion is a confused, overly long vanity record not unlike Views. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "Drake’s Scorpion, as Explained by an Astrologer and an Entomologist," 3 July 2018 This marginalization fed the wound to his vanity and his resentment bloomed into betrayal of his country and General Washington’s trust. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "Report: Trump tabloid pal cut deal with feds," 24 Aug. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'vanity.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of vanity

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Adjective

circa 1925, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for vanity

Noun

Middle English vanite, borrowed from Anglo-French vanité, borrowed from Latin vānitāt-, vānitās "emptiness, lack of judgment, foolish pride," from vānus "empty, lacking content" + -itāt-, -itās -ity — more at wane entry 1

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Learn More about vanity

Statistics for vanity

Last Updated

7 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for vanity

The first known use of vanity was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for vanity

vanity

noun

English Language Learners Definition of vanity

: the quality of people who have too much pride in their own appearance, abilities, achievements, etc. : the quality of being vain
: something (such as a belief or a way of behaving) which shows that you have too much pride in yourself, your social status, etc.
: a bathroom cabinet that is covered by a sink and a countertop

vanity

noun
van·​i·​ty | \ ˈva-nə-tē How to pronounce vanity (audio) \
plural vanities

Kids Definition of vanity

1 : the quality or fact of being vain
2 : something that is vain
3 : a small box for cosmetics

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More from Merriam-Webster on vanity

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with vanity

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for vanity

Spanish Central: Translation of vanity

Nglish: Translation of vanity for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of vanity for Arabic Speakers

Comments on vanity

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