Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The quality or condition of being vain.
  • n. Excessive pride in one's appearance or accomplishments; conceit. See Synonyms at conceit.
  • n. Lack of usefulness, worth, or effect; worthlessness.
  • n. Something that is vain, futile, or worthless.
  • n. Something about which one is vain or conceited.
  • n. A vanity case.
  • n. See dressing table.
  • n. A bathroom cabinet that encloses a basin and its water lines and drain, usually furnished with shelves and drawers underneath for storage of toiletries.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. That which is vain, futile, or worthless; that which is of no value, use or profit.
  • n. Excessive pride in or admiration of one's own abilities, appearance or achievements.
  • n. A dressing table used to apply makeup, preen, and coif hair. The table is normally quite low and similar to a desk, with drawers and one or more mirrors atop. Either a chair or bench is used to sit upon.
  • n. Emptiness.
  • n. Any idea, theory or statement that is without foundation.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The quality or state of being vain; want of substance to satisfy desire; emptiness; unsubstantialness; unrealness; falsity.
  • n. An inflation of mind upon slight grounds; empty pride inspired by an overweening conceit of one's personal attainments or decorations; an excessive desire for notice or approval; pride; ostentation; conceit.
  • n. That which is vain; anything empty, visionary, unreal, or unsubstantial; fruitless desire or effort; trifling labor productive of no good; empty pleasure; vain pursuit; idle show; unsubstantial enjoyment.
  • n. One of the established characters in the old moralities and puppet shows. See Morality, n., 5.
  • n. same as dressing table.
  • n. A cabinet built around a bathroom sink, usually with a countertop and sometimes drawers.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The character or state of being vain
  • n. The desire of indiscriminate admiration; inflation of mind upon slight ground; empty pride, inspired by an overweening conceit of one's personal attainments or adornments, and making its possessor anxious for the notice and applause of others.
  • n. Ostentation; ambitious display; pompous vaunting; pride; vainglory.
  • n. That which is vain; anything empty, visionary, or unsubstantial
  • n. Fruitless desire or endeavor; effort which produces no result.
  • n. An empty or vain conceit; a trifle.
  • n. In the Bible, a heathen deity, as having no proper existence.
  • n. One of the personified vices in the old moralities and puppet-shows.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. low table with mirror or mirrors where one sits while dressing or applying makeup
  • n. feelings of excessive pride
  • n. the quality of being valueless or futile
  • n. the trait of being unduly vain and conceited; false pride

Etymologies

Middle English vanite, from Old French, from Latin vānitās, from vānus, empty.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English vanite, from Old French vanité, from Latin vanitas, from Latin vanus, whence English vain. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • ” “Vanity of vanity saith the Preacher, … all is vanity, ” where the word “vanity” indicates that striving is in vain, because death comes to all, and “there is no new thing under the sun.

    Ecclesiastes

  • The besetting sin of all women is vanity; _vanity is a woman's consciousness of her power over men. _ "

    Possessed

  • Thus, the label vanity -- which I did not invent, BTW.

    Philosophy at Ten Paces!

  • But the story of how the best of us can undone and destroyed by our vanity is an old and important one.

    Lance Mannion:

  • So, "Thriller" was just what you call a vanity video.

    CNN Transcript Jun 29, 2009

  • In theology, it is what we call vanity or the sin of pride.

    Archive 2007-07-01

  • 'It gets me into what they call vanity publishing.

    Longshot

  • As evidence of that campaign, the suit included several comments Mr. Lorre included on what he calls "vanity cards" that appear at the end of each episode.

    NYT > Home Page

  • We found that that the word 'vanity' doesn't have a negative connotation to it with this consumer.

    The Seattle Times

  • Besides outright plagiarism, I think a lot of the problem is what I call vanity publishing.

    "news" via big sleep in Google Reader

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Pull down thy vanity, I say pull down.
    Learn of the green world what can be thy place. - Ezra Pound

    February 18, 2011

  • “What a man thinks of himself, that is which determines, or rather indicates, his fate�?
    - Henry David Thoreau

    July 26, 2009