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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, especially when concerning religion.