vain


vain
vain 1 Vain, nugatory, otiose, idle, empty, hollow are comparable when they mean devoid of worth or significance.
Something vain (see also FUTILE) is devoid of all value, either absolutely because worthless, superfluous, or unprofitable or relatively because there are other things which are of infinitely greater value, greater necessity, or greater profitableness
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vain pleasures of luxurious life, forever with yourselves at strife— Wordsworth

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unless the forces of destruction ... are brought under control, it is vain to plan for the future— Attlee

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vain pomp and glory of this world— Shak.

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Something nugatory is trifling or insignificant or, especially in legal use, inoperative
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in the decorative arts, the freedom given to the individual is rendered nugatory by the absence of cultural recognition of the innovator— Mead

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a literary work . . . likely to be despised as ephemeral and nugatory—J. W. Clark

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limiting the right to pass laws for the execution of the granted powers, to such as are indispensable, and without which the power would be nugatoryJohn Marshall

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the book is so one-sided that as a constructive contribution it is nugatory—Times Lit. Sup.

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Something otiose has no excuse for being or serves no purpose and is usually an encumbrance or a superfluity
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mummified customs that have long outlasted their usefulness, and otiose dogmas that have long lost their vitality— Inge

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it ought to be comparatively easy to decide . . . what kinds of criticism are useful and what are otiose—T. S. Eliot

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you were drastic .... A firm hand pruned your lines; a sharp ear tested their music. Nothing soft, otiose, irrelevant cumbered your pages— Woolf

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Something idle has no solidity, either being baseless or groundless or being incapable of having any worthwhile effects or result (idle theorizing)
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idle dreams

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there is nothing that can control speculation, and preserve legitimate theory from idle fancy, but a strict adherence to the essential principles of science— Dingle

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it is idle to illustrate further, because to those who agree with me I am uttering commonplaces and to those who disagree I am ignoring the necessary foundations of thought— Justice Holmes

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Something empty or hollow is destitute of substance or reality and is only apparently or deceivingly sound, real, worthwhile, genuine, or sincere
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empty threats

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a hollow victory

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in itself unreal, empty, of no importance, and discardable overnight— Wouk

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empty profundities to which no operational meaning can possibly be attached— Huxley

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they were married with the bright hollow panoply attending such military affairs— Styron

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Analogous words: worthless, valueless (see affirmative nouns at WORTH): ineffectual, *ineffective, inefficacious: fruitless, bootless, *futile, abortive
Contrasted words: effectual, *effective, efficacious
2 *futile, fruitless, bootless, abortive
Analogous words: *ineffective, ineffectual, inefficacious: trivial, trifling, puny, *petty, paltry: delusive, delusory, *misleading
3 proud, vainglorious (see under PRIDE n)
Analogous words: self-satisfied, self-complacent, *complacent, priggish, smug: conceited, egoistic, egotistic (see corresponding nouns at CONCEIT)
Contrasted words: *humble, meek, modest: diffident, *shy, bashful

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

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  • vain — vain …   Dictionnaire des rimes

  • vain — vain, vaine [ vɛ̃, vɛn ] adj. • déb. XIIe; lat. vanus 1 ♦ Vx Vide. « De vains tombeaux » (P. Corneille) :des cénotaphes. Mod. Vaine pâture. 2 ♦ Vieilli Qui est sans consistance, sans réalité. ⇒ irréel. « Nous sommes abusés par de vaines images »… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • vain — vain, aine (vin, vè n ) adj. 1°   Proprement, vide, ce qui est le sens étymologique conservé seulement dans les locutions suivantes : vaine pâture, terres où il n y a ni semences, ni fruits, et, par suite, où tous les habitants d une commune… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • Vain — Vain, a. [Compar. {Vainer}; superl. {Vainest}.] [F. vain, L. vanus empty, void, vain. Cf. {Vanish}, {Vanity}, {Vaunt} to boast.] [1913 Webster] 1. Having no real substance, value, or importance; empty; void; worthless; unsatisfying. Thy vain… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • vain — VAIN, [v]aine. adj. Inutile, Qui ne produit rien. Faire de vains efforts. toutes ses sollicitations ont esté vaines. On appelle, Terres vaines & vagues, Des terres inutiles, incultes, qui ne produisent rien, & qui ne sont reclamées de personne.… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • vain — [veın] adj [Date: 1300 1400; : Old French; Origin: Latin vanus empty, 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 …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • vain — [ veın ] adjective * 1. ) someone who is vain is very proud and thinks they are very attractive or special: CONCEITED: He was vain about his looks, spending hours in the gym. 2. ) unsuccessful or useless: a vain attempt/bid/effort: They made a… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • Vain — Vain, n. Vanity; emptiness; now used only in the phrase in vain. [1913 Webster] {For vain}. See {In vain}. [Obs.] Shak. {In vain}, to no purpose; without effect; ineffectually. In vain doth valor bleed. Milton. In vain they do worship me. Matt.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Vain — Datos generales Nacimiento 1986 Origen San Francisco …   Wikipedia Español

  • vain (en) — ⇒VAIN (EN), loc. adv. A. Sans résultat, sans utilité, pour rien. Synon. inutilement. C est en vain que vous prétendez soumettre les gouvernements à la volonté générale. Ce sont toujours eux qui dictent cette volonté, et toutes les précautions… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • vain — [vān] adj. [OFr < L vanus, empty, vain: see WANT] 1. having no real value or significance; worthless, empty, idle, hollow, etc. [vain pomp] 2. without force or effect; futile, fruitless, unprofitable, unavailing, etc. [a vain endeavor] 3.… …   English World dictionary


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