Pronunciation Adjective

vain (comparative vainer, superlative vainest)

  1. Overly proud of oneself, especially concerning appearance; having a high opinion of one's own accomplishments with slight reason.
    • Every writer is a narcissist. This does not mean that he is vain; it only means that he is hopelessly self-absorbed.
  2. Having no real substance, value, or importance; empty; void; worthless; unsatisfying.
    • c. 1590–1591, William Shakespeare, “The Two Gentlemen of Verona”, 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 III, scene i]:
      I will not hear thy vain excuse
    • Bible, Epistle to the Ephesians v. 6
      Let no man deceive you with vain words.
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book 2”, 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 ↗:
      Vain wisdom all, and false philosophy.
  3. Effecting no purpose; pointless, futile.
    vain toil;  a vain attempt
    • Vain is the force of man / To crush the pillars which the pile sustain.
    • It is vain to do with more what can be done with fewer.
  4. Showy; ostentatious.
    • 1731, Alexander Pope, Epistle to Burlington:
      Load some vain church with old theatric state.
Synonyms Related terms Translations Translations Translations

vain (plural vains)

  1. (medicine) Acronym of vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia

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