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Definition of vain:

  • (adjective) characteristic of false pride; having an exaggerated sense of self-importance
  • (adjective) unproductive of success

Sentence Examples:

Beryl seemed quite unnerved, and it was in vain that the others tried to persuade her that it was only her imagination.

And spurring his steed, he dashed after the flying Swiss, striving to rally them, but his efforts were in vain.

Rush after rush was made by the gallant Japanese, but every attempt to get near to the trenches was vain.

With their keen marksmanship they kept the enemy at bay, completely baffling the savages, who peppered the house in vain.

In vain did the czar assert that his object was to develop, by protection, Russian manufactures of the excluded articles.

In front of him he saw the mighty column sway and oscillate as though in a vain attempt to recover its equipoise.

He tried the inkstand, the pretty paper-weight on the table, and even his large red and green pocket-handkerchief, in vain.

For a long time I used to wonder in vain what feelings, sentiments, ideas might be hidden beneath all that unsmiling placidity.

On reaching the boat I found several buzzards feeding on the bodies, which I in vain attempted to drag to the shore.

And "fire away" the stranger did, spouting yards of rigmarole which the two plain-clothes men tried in vain to follow.

It would be vain to attempt a description in limits so brief as those allotted us, of this terrific and bloody contest.

Smith looked in vain for the compact form of a dynamo or motor, and listened in vain for the sound of either.

After trying in vain to dissuade the men, he had chosen to come with them to prevent any discourtesy on their part.

The boy plunged into the seething waves to save him, but the attempt was in vain, and the father perished.

Cecilia in vain tried to change it for another; he quitted it only by compulsion, and returned to it with redoubled eagerness.

The guests sat in painful suspense, watching the door for the entrance of the Frenchman; but they watched in vain.

And it was in vain that he looked back upon the reward he had to stand for that necessary cypher a husband.

They were condemned to circuit the mountain, famished, and to long for the fruit and waters of the tree in vain.

After puzzling herself in vain, and examining at length the beautiful copy-book penmanship of the address, Esther gave up the enigma.

Her case is interesting, as throwing upon the rites and ceremonies of the Scottish witches a light which we seek in vain elsewhere.

The princess was astonished at his intrepidity, and said a thousand things to dissuade him from it, but all in vain.

The greatest book ever written, the finest picture ever painted, appeals in vain to minds preoccupied by selfish and secret cares.

The vain practices of the devotees, the exterior strictness, which trusted to formality for salvation, had in him a mortal enemy.

The mind which rejects syndicalism entirely because of the by-products of its despair has had pearls cast before it in vain.

In a trice I was down, and seized; and struggling desperately, but in vain, was dragged into safety, but a prisoner.

Japanese women are always clean, neat, and dainty, and it is vain to look for a speck of dust on a silken cuff.

He denounced the proceeding of Douglas with unsparing severity, and gave his best efforts, but in vain, to defeat the bill.

In vain Mahoney strove to get the men to take turns in watching aloft from the mizzenmast for any chance vessel.

And, remember well, it will be in vain for you to write upon it hereafter; what has once been indited, cannot be erased.

He had apparently allowed for everything; any possible effort she might make to escape from his clutches seemed vain and bootless.

It was in vain that she stormed, threatened, and swore in the German style; the genius continued to play his tricks.

For, remember well, it will be in vain for you to write upon it hereafter; what has once been indited, cannot be erased.

The petition which was meant to embolden, deprived them of hope; and they rose from their vain devotions, in unexpected horror.

The farmer and his wife both endeavored, by the most endearing terms, to induce Colin to leave it; but in vain.

Janet tried in vain to take his attention, and ended by flouncing out of the old parlor, hot with indignant wrath.

This produced a scene with Henry: for our little baronet, vain of his unusual munificence, had kept the circumstance no secret.

Every possible inquiry was made in the hope of finding out the vandals who had plucked their feathers, but in vain.

I'll be bound it's one of those aquiline hook-noses which your bloated aristocrats are so vain of, none of your jolly button-mushroom snub.

I searched every corner, too, in vain; but wandering past the dividing hedge, a voice floated articulately over the still afternoon.

His arms, hampered by sleeves pulled far down over the hands, winnowed the air like saurian flippers, wagging in vain resistance.

She peered into the gloom, trying to descry the wires of an aerial against the sky-line, but her search was vain.

It was vain to recount their woes to the stolid village policeman who came pompously to inquire and make elaborate notes of all.

The snake-charmer was sought in vain; he had the good fortune and good sense to be seen no more in the Australian colonies.

They were very vain of their glory, and they were great boasters, fond of inscribing their names and deeds on stone.

Without it, commerce is vain, the ardor of industry is restrained, justice is arrested, happiness is blasted, virtue sickens and dies.

Perceiving any importunity altogether vain, I crossed my hands, submitting humbly to whatever disposition they might please to make of me.

In face the little king grew daily more like an Austrian, though his father tried in vain to see some resemblance to himself.

The men, knowing the inordinate voracity of the creature, wait with some anxiety, and their expectation is not always in vain.

Expostulation, soothing, whipping, and kicking, were all exerted in vain to make the restive beast resume the proper and intended direction.

From the first I felt sure he was a vain man and utterly untruthful, and my opinion was amply justified later.

It was in vain that arguments and expostulations were addressed to soldiers who were suffering from want, and maddened by injustice.

He is paunchy, gross, noisy, vain, bragging, shallow, with a red, sweat-distilling face, and a nose that tells of the bottle.

German dominance had been built up on a conscripted army, against which a volunteer and partially conscripted army struggled in vain.

In vain the disconcerted artist uttered an imploring groan of dismay, as thus, at the critical moment, his model betrayed him.

Nor were these anticipations vain; for the Egyptian forces again carried all before them, and defeated the Ethiopians on every side.

She was lovely, of course, and amiable: Fanny sometimes calls her bewitching; but we search in vain for anything more distinctive.

We shall look in vain in Greek literature for an injunction to hospitality as finely phrased as the passage just quoted from Exodus.

Working parties, furnished as usual, persevered in vain to make way against the drenching storm and the strong wind that blew.

Fancy a creature, an idolater of fame before, suddenly made captive by love, and you have a vain, partial image of my forest-princess.

He choked, and like small children who have not learned to cough, he choked from his vain, frantic efforts to expectorate.

He was holding some tickets and endeavoring (in vain, shortsighted as he was) to find the corresponding numbers of the chairs.

At the time when the above parody appeared there was an agitation on foot to reform the costliness and vain display at funerals.

The bear, enfeebled by her previous encounter and the loss of blood, strove in vain to shake off these ferocious antagonists.

It follows you into the alder swamp, and you may sit under the arching fronds of the ostrich-plume ferns in vain.

No one is so offended by a vain show as the ostentatious; it seems to harrow up all the pride in their nature.

It was in vain that Kirk touched on the work-shy father, dwelt feelingly on the young gentleman who travelled in hats.

All wore a dejected aspect, but especially the men who had fought so heroically and, as it now seemed, in vain.

It was in vain that I raged with unmeaning fury, and demanded that with imprecation which was not to be found.

The effect is produced by confronting Mary with a vain and spiteful termagant bearing the name of the great English queen.

"Your hope is not in vain, young man," replied Howard, suavely; "but I will come and sit beside you while you stoke."

Life itself to make it supportable, should not be considered too near; my reason represents to me in vain the inutility of serious reflections.

She came, at least, to find final satisfaction in agnosticism, to believe that all intellectual speculations on the subject are in vain.

The warrior, against whose undaunted breast a hundred spears had shivered in vain, fell appalled and humbled to the ground.

Mack thereupon crossed the River Inn and sought, but in vain, to cut off the Bavarian troops from that stronghold.

We look in vain to such writers for a plain, unvarnished, common sense statement of facts, for sound arguments, or logical deductions.

Emmy ran again to her father, and the vain bad mother to her bottle; we must leave them to their various avocations.

Then once more the wooers threw their sharp spears eagerly; but behold, Athene so wrought that many of them were in vain.

The officers as they passed would try to break the enchantment by gay and sportive words, but all in vain.

Emmy ran again to her father, and the vain bad mother to her bottle; we must leave them to their various avocations.

Distort it as the performers might, and vain, inadequate, as might be the words they declaimed, an idea lay behind it all.

That he was a coxcomb and a bore, weak, vain, pushing, curious, garrulous, was obvious to all who were acquainted with him.

The Indian war merged into the War of 1812, and the settlers strove in vain to add Canadian lands to their empire.

It is because we recognize the carnal mind whose thoughts are frivolous, vain, wretched or miserable, that we are unsettled and dissatisfied.

Grayson showed every sign of tractability, and they began to feel again that their valuable time had not been expended in vain.

Ibarra breathed with effort, but his arm of iron kept harsh hold of the Franciscan, who struggled in vain to free himself.

They were very much mortified at what he told them, and endeavored to persuade him to stay with them, but in vain.

I jerked the reins in a vain attempt to guide them, but on they went, pell-mell, making straight for the open gate.

He was known for being vain, overbearing, and somewhat contemptuous, but many lovers of both genders often overlooked these flaws.

Quite early next morning he arose, fresh and eager, all vain philosophizing gone, prepared to hold his own in a big city.

Kalman alone maintained a profound gravity, waiting with dignified mien till the noise had subsided, to continue his speech; but in vain.

These mordant critics would exalt the men of English descent by disparaging the men of Celtic breed, but in vain.

To retrace her steps through the intricacies of that dark forest, would be as vain as the thought of it was appalling.

I think you are much above being a vain coxcomb, overrating your own merit, and insulting others with the superabundance of it.

Even as her feet left the ground she seemed to whirl in the air, and the deadly talons whipped down in vain.

One fine moonlight night, we were lying becalmed within the tropics, whistling and invoking St Antonio in vain, for no breeze came.

If it looked, however, it looked in vain, for the influence of the teetotalers was worse than thrown away in this struggle.

Truly, the meanest of the many debtors who had sued him in vain for mercy, need not have envied the usurer then.

He is a man possessed by the desire of having reputation among foreigners, vain of the preference of our sex, generous even to prodigality.

The best judges are pleased to admire it, and the best among our townsmen own to being a little vain of it.

He stammered, looking in vain for the little woman whom he had so heartlessly abandoned in her woe on the living-room set.