Date: 1200-1300
Language: Old French
Origin: Latin planus 'flat, level, clear'


1 adjective
plain1 S2 W3


very clear, and easy to understand or recognize [= obvious]
it is plain (that)
It was plain that Giles was not going to agree.
The advantages were plain to see.
You have made your feelings plain enough.
Let me make it plain (=state it clearly). We do not want you here.
make yourself plain (=make what you are saying clear)
If you do that again you will be severely punished. Do I make myself plain?

in plain English/language

in clear and simple words, without using technical language:
The document, written in plain English, tells you about your new policy.


without anything added or without decoration [= simple]:
a plain white blouse
a plain wooden table
plain yoghurt
a plain gold wedding ring
Your essay should be written on plain paper (=paper with no lines on it).


showing clearly and honestly what is true or what you think about something [= frank, candid]:
Let's have some plain, truthful answers.
I don't know, and that's the plain truth.
The plain fact is people still buy books.


[only before noun] spoken used to emphasize that a particular type of behaviour, attitude etc is involved, usually a bad one:
His motive was plain greed.
When you told him his house was too cold that was just plain bad manners.

not beautiful

not beautiful or attractive - often used because you want to avoid saying this directly:
Mrs Cookson was a rather plain woman.
plain Jane (=used to talk about a woman who is not beautiful)

in plain clothes

SCP police officers in plain clothes are not wearing uniform plain-clothes

(just) plain Mr/Mrs etc

spoken used to show that someone does not have or use a special title:
I don't call him Uncle - just plain Bill.

be plain sailing

to be very easy to do or achieve:
If you can answer the first question, the rest of the test should be plain sailing.

in plain sight

American English if something is in plain sight, it is easy to see or notice, especially when it should be hidden:
Don't leave your valuables in plain sight.
plainness noun [uncountable]

Dictionary results for "plain"
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