Definition of vain adjective from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//veɪn//
    ; NAmE NAmE//veɪn//
    Selfish, Proud
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  1. 1that does not produce the result you want synonym useless She closed her eyes tightly in a vain attempt to hold back the tears. I knocked loudly in the vain hope that someone might answer.
  2. 2(disapproving) too proud of your own appearance, abilities or achievements synonym conceited She's too vain to wear glasses. see also vanity See related entries: Selfish, Proud
  3. Word OriginMiddle English (in the sense ‘without real worth’): via Old French from Latin vanus ‘empty, without substance’.Extra examples Their flattery made him vain. very vain about his looks He’s so vain! I don’t think it’s vain to care about how you look. She’s too vain to wear glasses. The government spent billions in a vain bid to prop up the currency.Idioms without success They tried in vain to persuade her to go. She waited in vain for her son to return. All our efforts were in vain.
    take somebody’s name in vain
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    to show a lack of respect when using somebody’s name (humorous) Have you been taking my name in vain again?
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: vain