Synonyms & Antonyms of vain

1 having too high an opinion of oneself
  • a man so vain that he spent hours admiring himself in the mirror

Synonyms for vain

Words Related to vain

Near Antonyms for vain

Antonyms for vain

3 having no usefulness
  • having tired of the vain pleasures of life in the fast lane, he returned to the small town he had grown up in

Synonyms for vain

Words Related to vain

Near Antonyms for vain

Antonyms for vain

See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About vain

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about vain

Time Traveler for vain

Time Traveler

The first known use of vain was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Cite this Entry

“Vain.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Sep. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on vain

Dictionary: Definition of vain

Nglish: Translation of vain for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of vain for Arabic Speakers

Comments on vain

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three bears two of them look like theyre whispering to a third bear who looks chuffed to be the center of attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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