plain

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See also: Plain

English[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English pleyn, borrowed from Anglo-Norman pleyn, playn, borrowed from Middle French plain, plein, from Old French plain, from Latin plānus (flat, even, level, plain).

Adjective[edit]

a plain bagel

plain (comparative plainer, superlative plainest)

  1. (now rare, regional) Flat, level. [from 14th c.]
    • Bible, Isaiah xl. 4
      The crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.
  2. Simple.
    1. Ordinary; lacking adornment or ornamentation; unembellished. [from 14th c.]
      He was dressed simply in plain black clothes.
      a plain tune
      • 2013 September-October, Henry Petroski, “The Evolution of Eyeglasses”, in American Scientist:
        The ability of a segment of a glass sphere to magnify whatever is placed before it was known around the year 1000, when the spherical segment was called a reading stone, essentially what today we might term a frameless magnifying glass or plain glass paperweight.
    2. Of just one colour; lacking a pattern.
      a plain pink polycotton skirt
    3. Simple in habits or qualities; unsophisticated, not exceptional, ordinary. [from 16th c.]
      They're just plain people like you or me.
    4. (of food) Having only few ingredients, or no additional ingredients or seasonings; not elaborate, without toppings or extras. [from 17th c.]
      Would you like a poppy bagel or a plain bagel?
    5. (computing) Containing no extended or nonprinting characters (especially in plain text). [from 20th c.]
  3. Obvious.
    1. Evident to one's senses or reason; manifest, clear, unmistakable. [from 14th c.]
      • 1843, Thomas Carlyle, Past and Present, book 2, ch. XV, Practical — Devotional
        In fact, by excommunication or persuasion, by impetuosity of driving or adroitness in leading, this Abbot, it is now becoming plain everywhere, is a man that generally remains master at last.
    2. Downright; total, unmistakable (as intensifier). [from 14th c.]
      His answer was just plain nonsense.
  4. Open.
    1. Honest and without deception; candid, open; blunt. [from 14th c.]
      Let me be plain with you: I don't like her.
      • 1577, Socrates Scholasticus [i.e., Socrates of Constantinople], “Constantinus the Emperour Summoneth the Nicene Councell, it was Held at Nicæa a Citie of Bythnia for the Debatinge of the Controuersie about the Feast of Easter, and the Rootinge out of the Heresie of Arius”, in Eusebius Pamphilus; Socrates Scholasticus; Evagrius Scholasticus; Dorotheus; Meredith Hanmer, transl., The Avncient Ecclesiasticall Histories of the First Six Hundred Yeares after Christ, Wrytten in the Greeke Tongue by Three Learned Historiographers, Eusebius, Socrates, and Euagrius. [...], book I (The First Booke of the Ecclesiasticall Historye of Socrates Scholasticvs), imprinted at London: By Thomas Vautroullier dwelling in the Blackefriers by Ludgate, OCLC 55193813, page 225:
        [VV]e are able with playne demonſtration to proue, and vvith reaſon to perſvvade that in tymes paſt our fayth vvas alike, that then vve preached thinges correſpondent vnto the forme of faith already published of vs, ſo that none in this behalfe can repyne or gaynesay vs.
      • William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
        an honest mind, and plain
      • 1749, Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling. In Six Volumes, volume (please specify |volume=I to VI), London: Printed by A[ndrew] Millar, [], OCLC 928184292:
        The Quaker was no sooner assured by this fellow of the birth and low fortune of Jones, than all compassion for him vanished; and the honest plain man went home fired with no less indignation than a duke would have felt at receiving an affront from such a person.
    2. Clear; unencumbered; equal; fair.
      • Felton
        Our troops beat an army in plain fight.
  5. Not unusually beautiful; unattractive. [from 17th c.]
    • 1986, John le Carré, A Perfect Spy:
      Yet her beauty clung to her like an identity she was trying to deny and her plainness kept slipping like a bad disguise.
    Throughout high school she worried that she had a rather plain face.
Synonyms[edit]
Antonyms[edit]
Derived terms[edit]
Related terms[edit]
Translations[edit]

Adverb[edit]

plain (not comparable)

  1. (colloquial) Simply
    It was just plain stupid.
    I plain forgot.

Etymology 2[edit]

From Anglo-Norman plainer, pleiner, variant of Anglo-Norman and Old French pleindre, plaindre, from Latin plangere, present active infinitive of plangō.

Alternative forms[edit]

Noun[edit]

plain (plural plains)

  1. (rare, poetic) A lamentation.

Verb[edit]

plain (third-person singular simple present plains, present participle plaining, simple past and past participle plained)

  1. (reflexive, obsolete) To complain. [13th-19th c.]
    • c. 1390, William Landland, Piers Plowman, Prologue:
      Persones and parisch prestes · pleyned hem to þe bischop / Þat here parisshes were pore · sith þe pestilence tyme […].
  2. (transitive, intransitive, now rare, poetic) To lament, bewail. [from 14th c.]
    to plain a loss
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Sir J. Harrington to this entry?)
    • Bishop Joseph Hall
      Thy mother could thee for thy cradle set / Her husband's rusty iron corselet; / Whose jargling sound might rock her babe to rest, / That never plain'd of his uneasy nest.
    • Alfred Edward Housman, More Poems, XXV, lines 5-9
      Then came I crying, and to-day,
      With heavier cause to plain,
      Depart I into death away,
      Not to be born again.
Related terms[edit]

Etymology 3[edit]

From Old French plain, from Latin plānum (level ground, a plain), neuter substantive from plānus (level, even, flat).

Noun[edit]

English Wikipedia has an article on:
Wikipedia
a plain

plain (plural plains)

  1. An expanse of land with relatively low relief.
    • Milton
      Him the Ammonite / Worshipped in Rabba and her watery plain.
    • 1961, J. A. Philip. Mimesis in the Sophistês of Plato. In: Proceedings and Transactions of the American Philological Association 92. p. 467.
      For Plato the life of the philosopher is a life of struggle towards the goal of knowledge, towards “searching the heavens and measuring the plains, in all places seeking the nature of everything as a whole”
  2. A battlefield.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Arbuthnot to this entry?)
    • Shakespeare
      Lead forth my soldiers to the plain.
  3. (obsolete) A plane.
Synonyms[edit]
Antonyms[edit]
Derived terms[edit]
Related terms[edit]
See also[edit]
Translations[edit]

Verb[edit]

plain (third-person singular simple present plains, present participle plaining, simple past and past participle plained)

  1. (obsolete, transitive) To level; to raze; to make plain or even on the surface.
    • 1594, Christopher Marlowe, Edward II, London: William Jones,[1]
      Frownst thou thereat aspiring Lancaster,
      The sworde shall plane the furrowes of thy browes,
    • 1612, George Wither, Prince Henrie’s Obsequies, Elegy 24, in Egerton Brydges (editor), Restituta, Volume I, London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme & Brown, 1814, p. 399,[2]
      Though kept by Rome’s and Mahomet’s chiefe powers;
      They should not long detain him there in thrall:
      We would rake Europe rather, plain the East;
      Dispeople the whole Earth before the doome:
  2. (obsolete, transitive) To make plain or manifest; to explain.

Anagrams[edit]


Dalmatian[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Latin plēnus. Compare Italian pieno, Romansch plain, Romanian plin, French plein.

Adjective[edit]

plain (feminine plaina)

  1. full

French[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Old French plain, from Latin plānus.

Pronunciation[edit]

Adjective[edit]

plain (feminine singular plaine, masculine plural plains, feminine plural plaines)

  1. (obsolete) plane

Further reading[edit]

Anagrams[edit]


Middle French[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Old French plain, from Latin plēnus.

Adjective[edit]

plain m (feminine singular plaine, masculine plural plains, feminine plural plaines)

  1. full (not empty)

Old French[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

From Latin plēnus.

Adjective[edit]

plain m (feminine plaine)

  1. full (not empty)
Antonyms[edit]
Descendants[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Latin plānum (level ground, a plain), neuter substantive from plānus (level, even, flat).

Noun[edit]

plain m (oblique plural plainz, nominative singular plainz, nominative plural plain)

  1. plain (flat area)
Synonyms[edit]
Descendants[edit]

Etymology 3[edit]

From Latin plānus (level, even, flat).

Adjective[edit]

plain m (oblique and nominative feminine singular plaine)

  1. flat (not even or mountainous)

Romansch[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Latin plēnus.

Adjective[edit]

plain m (feminine singular plaina, masculine plural plains, feminine plural plainas)

  1. (Rumantsch Grischun, Puter, Vallader) full