plain

Plain things are simple, unadorned, and even a little boring. Being a plain talker means you don't use pretentious, fancy words. But having a plain face means you're not much to look at.

Plain comes from the Latin word planum, meaning "level ground." That's one meaning of the word, as in a flat prairie or low lying coastal flood plain. If something is in plain view, it's out in the open with no obstructions. But usually we use plain as an adjective to describe unembellished, bare, or unimpressive things. A white room with just an old bed and a chair is pretty plain.

Primary Meanings of plain

1.
adjadv
not elaborate or elaborated; simple
unmistakably (`plain' is often used informally for `plainly')
2.
n
extensive tract of level open land
3.
n
a basic knitting stitch
4.
v
express complaints, discontent, displeasure, or unhappiness
Full Definitions of plain
1

adj not elaborate or elaborated; simple

plain food”
“stuck to the plain facts”
“a plain blue suit”
“a plain rectangular brick building”
Synonyms:
unadorned, undecorated
not decorated with something to increase its beauty or distinction
austere, severe, stark, stern
severely simple
bare, mere, simple
apart from anything else; without additions or modifications
chaste
pure and simple in design or style
dry
(of food) eaten without a spread or sauce or other garnish
dry
having no adornment or coloration
featureless
lacking distinguishing characteristics or features
homely
plain and unpretentious
inelaborate, unelaborate
not elaborate; lacking rich or complex detail
literal
avoiding embellishment or exaggeration (used for emphasis)
simple
unornamented
tailored, trim
severely simple in line or design
vanilla
plain and without any extras or adornments
unpretentious
lacking pretension or affectation
unrhetorical
not rhetorical
simple
having few parts; not complex or complicated or involved
Antonyms:
fancy
not plain; decorative or ornamented
adorned, decorated
provided with something intended to increase its beauty or distinction
aureate, flamboyant, florid
elaborately or excessively ornamented
baroque, churrigueresco, churrigueresque
having elaborate symmetrical ornamentation
busy, fussy
overcrowded or cluttered with detail
dressy
in fancy clothing
crackle
having the surface decorated with a network of fine cracks, as in crackleware
damascene
(of metals) decorated or inlaid with a wavy pattern of different (especially precious) metals
damask
having a woven pattern
elaborate, luxuriant, ornate
marked by complexity and richness of detail
battlemented, castellated, castled, embattled
having or resembling repeated square indentations like those in a battlement
fanciful
having a curiously intricate quality
fantastic
extravagantly fanciful in design, construction, appearance
lacelike, lacy
made of or resembling lace
puff, puffed
gathered for protruding fullness
rococo
having excessive asymmetrical ornamentation
vermicular, vermiculate, vermiculated
decorated with wormlike tracery or markings
rhetorical
given to rhetoric, emphasizing style at the expense of thought
show more antonyms...

adj lacking patterns especially in color

Synonyms:
unpatterned
solid-colored, solid-coloured
having the same color all over
Antonyms:
patterned
having patterns (especially colorful patterns)
banded
marked with bands or strips of contrasting color or texture
black-and-tan
having a pattern of black and tan
black-barred
having a pattern consisting of black bars
black-marked
having black marks
blotched, blotchy, splotched
marked with irregularly shaped spots or blots
brinded, brindle, brindled, tabby
having a grey or brown streak or a pattern or a patchy coloring; used especially of the patterned fur of cats
brown-speckled, brownish-speckled
having brown speckles
brown-striped, brownish-striped
having brown stripes
burled
(of wood) have a pattern from the grain of a tree burl
checked, checkered, chequered
patterned with alternating squares of color
cross-banded
(of snakes) having crossing bands on the back
dappled, mottled
having spots or patches of color
dark-spotted
having dark spots
dotted, flecked, specked, speckled, stippled
having a pattern of dots
figured
(of e.g. fabric design) adorned with patterns
floral, flowered
resembling or made of or suggestive of flowers
freckled, lentiginose, lentiginous
relating to or covered with or resembling freckles
laced
edged or streaked with color
marbled, marbleised, marbleized
patterned with veins or streaks or color resembling marble
maroon-spotted
having maroon spots
moire, watered
(of silk fabric) having a wavelike pattern
patched, spotted, spotty
having spots or patches (small areas of contrasting color or texture)
pointillist, pointillistic
of or relating to pointillism
pinstriped
having very thin stripes
purple-veined
(of flowers) showing purple markings that resemble veins
purple-spotted
having purple spots
red-streaked, red-striped, reddish-striped
having red stripes
ringed
having colored rings around the body
slashed
patterned by having color applied with sweeping strokes
sprigged
decorated with designs of sprigs
streaked, streaky
marked with or as if with stripes or linear discolorations
striped, stripy
marked or decorated with stripes
tessellated
having a checkered or mottled appearance
tiger-striped
having stripes resembling those of a tiger
veined, veinlike, venose
having or showing markings that resemble veins
violet-streaked
having streaks of violet color
white-blotched
having blotches of white
white-ribbed
having white ribs
white-streaked
having white streaks
yellow-banded
having yellow bands
yellow-marked
having yellow marks
yellow-spotted
having yellow spots
yellow-striped
having yellow stripes
show more antonyms...

adj lacking embellishment or ornamentation

“a plain hair style”
Synonyms:
bare, spare, unembellished, unornamented
unadorned, undecorated
not decorated with something to increase its beauty or distinction

adj not mixed with extraneous elements

plain water”
Synonyms:
sheer, unmingled, unmixed
pure
free of extraneous elements of any kind

adj clearly revealed to the mind or the senses or judgment

“made his meaning plain
“it is plain that he is no reactionary”
“in plain view”
Synonyms:
apparent, evident, manifest, patent, unmistakable
obvious
easily perceived by the senses or grasped by the mind

adj free from any effort to soften to disguise

“the plain and unvarnished truth”
Synonyms:
unvarnished
direct
straightforward in means or manner or behavior or language or action

adj lacking in physical beauty or proportion

“a plain girl with a freckled face”
Synonyms:
homely
unattractive
lacking beauty or charm

adv unmistakably (`plain' is often used informally for `plainly')

“he is plain stubborn”
Synonyms:
apparently, evidently, manifestly, obviously, patently, plainly
2

n extensive tract of level open land

“they emerged from the woods onto a vast open plain
Synonyms:
champaign, field
Examples:
show 4 examples...
hide 4 examples...
Olympia
a plain in Greece in the northwestern Peloponnese; the chief sanctuary of Zeus and the site of the original Olympian Games
Nullarbor Plain
a vast arid plain of southern Australia stretching inland from the Great Australian Bight; has sparse vegetation and no surface water and is almost uninhabited; the site of a major rocket research center
Serengeti Plain
a vast plain in Tanzania to the west of the Great Rift Valley known for its wildlife
Marston Moor
a former moor in northern England
Types:
show 10 types...
hide 10 types...
flat
a level tract of land
flood plain, floodplain
a low plain adjacent to a river that is formed chiefly of river sediment and is subject to flooding
llano
an extensive grassy and nearly treeless plain (especially in Latin America)
moor, moorland
open land usually with peaty soil covered with heather and bracken and moss
peneplain, peneplane
a more or less level land surface representing an advanced stage of erosion undisturbed by crustal movements
snowfield
a permanent wide expanse of snow
steppe
extensive plain without trees (associated with eastern Russia and Siberia)
tundra
a vast treeless plain in the Arctic regions where the subsoil is permanently frozen
alluvial flat, alluvial plain
a flat resulting from repeated deposits of alluvial material by running water
salt flat, salt plain
a flat expanse of salt left by the evaporation of a body of salt water
Type of:
dry land, earth, ground, land, solid ground, terra firma
the solid part of the earth's surface
3

n a basic knitting stitch

Synonyms:
knit, knit stitch, plain stitch
Type of:
knitting stitch
a stitch taken in knitting
4

v express complaints, discontent, displeasure, or unhappiness

Synonyms:
complain, kick, kvetch, quetch, sound off
Antonyms:
cheer, cheer up, chirk up
become cheerful
Types:
show 13 types...
hide 13 types...
hen-peck, nag, peck
bother persistently with trivial complaints
backbite, bitch
say mean things
grizzle, whine, yammer, yawp
complain whiningly
croak, gnarl, grumble, murmur, mutter
make complaining remarks or noises under one's breath
grouch, grumble, scold
show one's unhappiness or critical attitude
protest
utter words of protest
repine
express discontent
beef, bellyache, bitch, crab, gripe, grouse, holler, squawk
complain
inveigh, rail
complain bitterly
bemoan, bewail, deplore, lament
regret strongly
report
complain about; make a charge against
bleat
talk whiningly
declaim, inveigh
speak against in an impassioned manner

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a life-long learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.