American English

Definition of vain adjective from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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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
  3. 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 God's/the Lord's name in vain (old-fashioned)
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    to use the words “God,” “Jesus,” etc. in a way that shows a lack of respect
    take somebody's name in vain
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    to show a lack of respect when using someone's name (humorous) Have you been taking my name in vain again?
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: vain