adj. vain·er, vain·estIdiom:
1. Not yielding the desired outcome; fruitless: a vain attempt.
2. Lacking substance or worth: vain talk.
3. Having or showing excessive pride in one's appearance or accomplishments; conceited.
4. Archaic Foolish.
1. To no avail; without success: Our labor was in vain.
2. In an irreverent or disrespectful manner: took the Lord's name in vain.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin vānus, empty; see euə- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Synonyms: vain, empty, hollow, idle, otiose
These adjectives mean lacking value or substance: vain regrets; empty pleasures; hollow threats; idle dreams; otiose theoretical discussions. See Also Synonyms at futile.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.