If you spend all day admiring yourself in reflective surfaces — mirrors, pools of water, the backs of spoons — people may think you are conceited, or vain.

Vain is from Latin vanus, "empty," and in English it originally meant "lacking value or effect, futile," like your vain attempt to find a pencil in your messy, overstuffed backpack. Likewise, the phrase "in vain" means "without success." Vain also means "conceited, too proud of oneself." Carly Simon's line "You're so vain, you probably think this song is about you" is an excellent illustration of this use.

Definitions of vain
  1. adjective
    characteristic of false pride; having an exaggerated sense of self-importance
    vain about her clothes”
    synonyms: conceited, egotistic, egotistical, self-conceited, swollen, swollen-headed
    feeling self-respect or pleasure in something by which you measure your self-worth; or being a reason for pride
  2. adjective
    unproductive of success
    “a vain attempt”
    synonyms: bootless, fruitless, futile, sleeveless
    not producing or capable of producing
Word Family
F1 image

Express yourself in 25 languages

  • Learn immersively - no memorization required
  • Build skills for real-world conversations
  • Get immediate feedback on your pronunciation
Get started for $7.99/month