Definition of vanity
1 : something that is vain, empty, or valueless
2 : the quality or fact of being vain
3 : inflated pride in oneself or one's appearance : conceit
4 : a fashionable trifle or knickknack
5a : 3compact ab : a small case or handbag for toilet articles used by women
6a : dressing tableb : a bathroom cabinet containing a sink and usually having a countertop
Examples of vanity in a sentence
The handsome actor's vanity was well-known.
She described her accomplishments without exaggeration or vanity.
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.”
Definition of vanity
1 : of, relating to, or being a work (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
VANITY Defined for English Language Learners
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
Definition of vanity for Students
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).