see also: Plain
  • enPR: plān, IPA: /pleɪn/, [pʰl̥eɪn]

plain (comparative plainer, superlative plainest)

  1. (now rare, regional) Flat, level. [from 14th c.]
    • Bible, Book of Isaiah 40:4
      The crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.
  2. Simple.
    1. Ordinary; lacking adornment or ornamentation; unembellished. [from 14th c.]
      He was dressed simply in plain black clothes.
      a plain tune
    2. Of just one colour; lacking a pattern.
      a plain pink polycotton skirt
    3. Simple in habits or qualities; unsophisticated, not exceptional, ordinary. [from 16th c.]
      They're just plain people like you or me.
      • plain yet pious Christians
      • the plain people
    4. (of food) Having only few ingredients, or no additional ingredients or seasonings; not elaborate, without toppings or extras. [from 17th c.]
      Would you like a poppy bagel or a plain bagel?
    5. (computing) Containing no extended or nonprinting characters (especially in plain text). [from 20th c.]
  3. Obvious.
    1. Evident to one's senses or reason; manifest, clear, unmistakable. [from 14th c.]
      • 1843, Thomas Carlyle, Past and Present (book), book 2, ch. XV, Practical — Devotional
        In fact, by excommunication or persuasion, by impetuosity of driving or adroitness in leading, this Abbot, it is now becoming plain everywhere, is a man that generally remains master at last.
    2. Downright; total, unmistakable (as intensifier). [from 14th c.]
      His answer was just plain nonsense.
  4. Open.
    1. Honest and without deception; candid, open; blunt. [from 14th c.]
      Let me be plain with you: I don't like her.
      • c. 1603–1606, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of King Lear”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358 ↗, [Act II, scene v]:
        an honest mind, and plain, he must speak truth
      • 1749, Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling. In Six Volumes, volume (please specify ), London: Printed by A[ndrew] Millar, […], OCLC 928184292 ↗:
        The Quaker was no sooner assured by this fellow of the birth and low fortune of Jones, than all compassion for him vanished; and the honest plain man went home fired with no less indignation than a duke would have felt at receiving an affront from such a person.
    2. Clear; unencumbered; equal; fair.
      • Our troops beat an army in plain fight.
  5. Not unusually beautiful; unattractive. [from 17th c.]
    Throughout high school she worried that she had a rather plain face.
  6. (card games) Not a trump.
Synonyms Antonyms Related terms Translations Translations Translations Translations
  • French: simple texte
  • Portuguese: simples
  • Spanish: con caracteres normales, libre de caracteres especiales, sin caracteres especiales

plain (not comparable)

  1. (colloquial) Simply.
    It was just plain stupid.
    I plain forgot.
  2. (archaic) Plainly; distinctly.
    Tell me plain: do you love me or no?

plain (plural plains)

  1. (rare, poetic) A lamentation.
    • 1815, Sir Walter Scott, The Lady of the Isles ↗, Canto IV, part IX
      The warrior-threat, the infant's plain,
      The mother's screams, were heard in vain;

plain (plains, present participle plaining; past and past participle plained)

  1. (reflexive, obsolete) To complain. [13th-19th c.]
    • c. 1390, William Landland, Piers Plowman, Prologue:
      Persones and parisch prestes · pleyned hem to þe bischop / Þat here parisshes were pore · sith þe pestilence tyme […].
  2. (ambitransitive, now, rare, poetic) To lament, bewail. [from 14th c.]
    to plain a loss
    • Thy mother could thee for thy cradle set / Her husband's rusty iron corselet; / Whose jargling sound might rock her babe to rest, / That never plain'd of his uneasy nest.
    • 1936, Alfred Edward Housman, More Poems, "XXV", lines 5-9
      Then came I crying, and to-day, / With heavier cause to plain, / Depart I into death away, / Not to be born again.

plain (plural plains)

  1. An expanse of land with relatively low relief, usually exclusive of forests, deserts, and wastelands.
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book 1”, in Paradise Lost. A Poem Written in Ten Books, London: Printed [by Samuel Simmons], and are to be sold by Peter Parker […] [a]nd by Robert Boulter […] [a]nd Matthias Walker, […], OCLC 228722708 ↗; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: The Text Exactly Reproduced from the First Edition of 1667: […], London: Basil Montagu Pickering […], 1873, OCLC 230729554 ↗:
      Him the Ammonite / Worshipped in Rabba and her watery plain.
    • 1961, J. A. Philip. Mimesis in the Sophistês of Plato. In: Proceedings and Transactions of the American Philological Association 92. p. 467.
      For Plato the life of the philosopher is a life of struggle towards the goal of knowledge, towards “searching the heavens and measuring the plains, in all places seeking the nature of everything as a whole”
    Synonyms: flatland, grassland
    Hypernyms: land, terrain
    hypo en
  2. (archaic) Synonym of field#English|field in reference to a battlefield.
    • c. 1593, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedy of Richard the Third: […]”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358 ↗, [Act V, scene iii]:
      Lead forth my soldiers to the plain.
  3. (obsolete) Alternative spelling of plane: a flat geometric field.
Translations Verb

plain (plains, present participle plaining; past and past participle plained)

  1. (obsolete, transitive) To level; to raze; to make plain or even on the surface.
    • 1594, Christopher Marlowe, Edward II (play), London: William Jones,
      Frownst thou thereat aspiring Lancaster,
      The sworde shall plane the furrowes of thy browes,
    • 1612, George Wither, Prince Henrie’s Obsequies, Elegy 24, in Egerton Brydges (editor), Restituta, Volume I, London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme & Brown, 1814, p. 399,
      Though kept by Rome’s and Mahomet’s chiefe powers;
      They should not long detain him there in thrall:
      We would rake Europe rather, plain the East;
      Dispeople the whole Earth before the doome:
  2. (obsolete, transitive) To make plain or manifest; to explain.
    • c. 1608, William Shakespeare, Pericles, Act III, Prologue,
      What’s dumb in show, I’ll plain with speech.

Proper noun
  1. Surname

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