adjective, vain·er, vain·est.
- excessively proud of or concerned about one’s own appearance, qualities, achievements, etc.; conceited: a vain dandy.
- proceeding from or showing pride in or concern about one’s appearance, qualities, etc.; resulting from or displaying vanity: He made some vain remarks about his accomplishments.
- ineffectual or unsuccessful; futile: vain hopes; a vain effort; a vain war.
- without real significance, value, or importance; baseless or worthless: vain pageantry; vain display.
- Archaic. senseless or foolish.
- in vain,
- without effect or avail; to no purpose: lives lost in vain; to apologize in vain.
- in an improper or irreverent manner: to take God’s name in vain.
- inordinately proud of one’s appearance, possessions, or achievements
- given to ostentatious display, esp of one’s beauty
- senseless or futile
- in vain to no avail; fruitlessly
- take someone’s name in vain
- to use the name of someone, esp God, without due respect or reverence
- jocularto mention someone’s name
c.1300, “devoid of real value, idle, unprofitable,” from Old French vein “worthless,” from Latin vanus “idle, empty,” from PIE *wa-no-, from root *eue- “to leave, abandon, give out” (cf. Old English wanian “to lessen,” wan “deficient;” Old Norse vanta “to lack;” Latin vacare “to be empty,” vastus “empty, waste;” Avestan va- “lack,” Persian vang “empty, poor;” Sanskrit una- “deficient”). Meaning “conceited” first recorded 1690s, from earlier sense of “silly, idle, foolish” (late 14c.). Phrase in vain “to no effect” (c.1300, after Latin in vanum) preserves the original sense. Related: Vainly.
see in vain; take someone’s name in vain.