vain

1
2
3

Synonym Chooser

How is the word vain distinct from other similar adjectives?

Some common synonyms of vain are empty, hollow, idle, nugatory, and otiose. While all these words mean "being without worth or significance," vain implies either absolute or relative absence of value.

vain promises

How are the words empty and hollow related as synonyms of vain?

Both empty and hollow suggest a deceiving lack of real substance or soundness or genuineness.

an empty attempt at reconciliation
a hollow victory

When is it sensible to use idle instead of vain?

The synonyms idle and vain are sometimes interchangeable, but idle suggests being incapable of worthwhile use or effect.

idle speculations

When would nugatory be a good substitute for vain?

In some situations, the words nugatory and vain are roughly equivalent. However, nugatory suggests triviality or insignificance.

a monarch with nugatory powers

In what contexts can otiose take the place of vain?

The words otiose and vain can be used in similar contexts, but otiose suggests that something serves no purpose and is either an encumbrance or a superfluity.

a film without a single otiose scene

Thesaurus Entries Near vain

Cite this Entry

“Vain.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/vain. Accessed 14 Apr. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on vain

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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