van·​i·​ty | \ ˈva-nə-tē \
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



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


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

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

That means Kylie Jenner cleansers, scrubs, serums, masks, and moisturizes could be coming to a vanity (or Instagram Story) near you soon. Jenna Rosenstein, Harper's BAZAAR, "Everything We Know About Kylie Jenner's New Skincare Line," 3 Oct. 2018 On Wednesday morning, though, Dua outdid herself posting a pic on Instagram with one leg up on a hotel vanity wearing a pair of boots—that are also pants— under a print scarf dress. Avery Matera, Teen Vogue, "Dua Lipa’s Boots Are Actually Pants," 19 Sep. 2018 The bathroom was large with a rain shower, double vanity, and a separate deep bathtub. Christopher Muther,, "A new high in Los Angeles at the InterContinental," 27 June 2018 Visitors can also go home with sample swatches of chosen vanity and countertop colors to help them match paint, tile or other accessories. Larry Olmsted, USA TODAY, "Renovation vacation: Plan a trip, and a kitchen remodel," 8 June 2018 That detail is a point of sale for rooms that offer one king bed, two 55-inch TVs, a soaking tub, dual vanities and a separate seating area. Mac Engel, star-telegram, "Want to spy on America's Team? The Cowboys make it easy," 30 May 2018 Baths have been updated with new vanities and sinks, LED backlit mirrors and water-conserving toilets. Pamela Dittmer Mckuen,, "Renovated Addison apartments offer special draw: one-bedrooms topping 1,000 square feet," 24 May 2018 In the bathroom, look into getting new vanities and fixtures. Carpenter Realtors, Indianapolis Star, "7 ways to boost your home’s value before putting it on the market," 21 May 2018 The bedroom has an en suite with double vanity and stand-up tile shower as well as a spacious walk-in closet with laundry. Joey Morona,, "Northside condo with urban loft vibes asks $420K: Akron House of the Week," 2 Apr. 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


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2


circa 1925, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for vanity


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

10 Jan 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



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


van·​i·​ty | \ ˈva-nə-tē \
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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a person who helps groups work together

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