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- (idiomatic) Without success or a result; ending in failure.
- 19th c., Friedrich Nietzsche
- On the mountains of truth you can never climb in vain.
- 1956 , Johanna Spyri, Heidi, translation of original by Eileen Hall, page 46:
- For some time Grannie tried in vain to comfort her.
- 1960 March, J. P. Wilson & E. N. C. Haywood, “The route through the Peak: Derby to Manchester. Part One”, in Trains Illustrated, page 149:
- All these great plans were in vain, however, for in the cold dawn following the "Mania" years of 1845–46 the M.B.M. & M.J.R. project was truncated to an 111⁄2-mile line from Ambergate to Rowsley.
- (idiomatic) In a disrespectful manner, without honoring the proper meaning; insincerely or without proper respect.
- 1817, Sir Walter Scott, Rob Roy, published 2015, page 4:
- Methinks I see him even now in my mind's eye;— the firm and upright figure,— the step, quick and determined, — the eye, which shot so keen and so penetrating a glance,— the features on which care had already planted wrinkles, and hear his language, in which he never wasted word in vain, expressed in a voice which had sometimes an occasional harshness, far from the intention of the speaker.
- 2013, Mandy Merck, The Sexual Subject: Screen Reader in Sexuality:
- A fetishist regime attempts to annul the separation of image and spectator, to reinstall an immediate relation that promises (in vain) to provide satisfaction to desire itself.
- 2015, Kent Gramm, The Prayer of Jesus: A Reading of the Lord’s Prayer, page 69:
- This petition is the reverse side of the commandment against taking God's name in vain.
- 2015, Jimmy R. Watson, Big Jesus: A Pastor’s Struggle with Christology, page 119:
- McLaren's task, it seems, is to set Jesus in a more appropriate and biblical context so that we won't use his name “in vain.”
- (idiomatic) Unsuccessful, failed.
- Their efforts were in vain and he succumbed to his injuries.
- 2012, N.H. Pijls, Maximal Myocardial Perfusion as a Measure of the Functional Significance of Coronary Artery Disease:
- The problems concerning contrast induced hyperemia and the in vain efforts to search for a contrast agent not influencing flow […]
- in vain at OneLook Dictionary Search