1

vanity

noun van·i·ty \ ˈva-nə-tē \

Definition of vanity

plural vanities
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
6 a :3compact a
b :a small case or handbag for toilet articles used by women

Examples of vanity in a Sentence

  1. The handsome actor's vanity was well-known.

  2. She described her accomplishments without exaggeration or vanity.

Recent Examples of vanity from the Web

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.

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.”

Origin and Etymology of 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 1wane

2

vanity

adjective

Definition of vanity

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

First Known Use of vanity

circa 1925


VANITY Defined for English Language Learners

vanity

noun

Definition of vanity for English Language Learners

  • : 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 Defined for Kids

vanity

noun van·i·ty \ ˈva-nə-tē \

Definition of vanity for Students

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


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up vanity? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

to conform or adhere

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one-green-toy-robot-amidst-many-red-toy-robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!