Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English homepage

Date: 1300-1400
Language: Old French
Origin: Latin vanus 'empty, vain'

vain

adjective
     
vain
1 someone who is vain is too proud of their good looks, abilities, or position - used to show disapproval [= conceited]:
Men can be just as vain as women.
see usage note proud
2

in vain

a) without success in spite of your efforts:
Police searched in vain for the missing gunman.
b) without purpose or without positive results:
Altman swore that his son's death would not be in vain.

➔ take somebody's name in vain

at name1 (12)
3 a vain attempt, hope or search fails to achieve the result you wanted
vain attempt/effort/bid
The young mother died in a vain attempt to save her drowning son.
4

vain threat/promise etc

literary a threat, promise etc that is not worrying because the person cannot do what they say they will
vainly adverb:
The instructor struggled vainly to open his parachute.
WORD CHOICE: WORD CHOICE:

proud, arrogant, conceited, big-headed, vain
Proud is a fairly general word used to say that someone is pleased with themselves, pleased with what they have achieved, or pleased with something or someone connected with them such as their school or their family His proud parents watched the presentation. I'm very proud of my students. She was proud to be in the team.Proud is usually neither approving nor disapproving, although you can say someone is too proud, meaning that they will not admit they are wrong or need help.Arrogant is a disapproving word meaning that someone thinks they are better than other people He was so arrogant he thought he could not possibly lose. the arrogant way she dismisses my opinionsConceited and big-headed are disapproving words meaning that someone thinks they or their achievements are better than they really are. Conceited is fairly formal and big-headed is informal.Vain is a disapproving word meaning that someone thinks they are very special, especially because they are very proud of the way they look.See also proud

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