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, Middle French plain, plein, and Old French plain, from Latin plānus (flat, even, level, plain).

Alternative forms[edit]

Adjective[edit]

a plain bagel

plain (comparative plainer, superlative plainest)

  1. (now rare, regional) Flat, level. [from 14th c.]
  2. Simple, unaltered.
    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.
      • 1654, Henry Hammond, Of Fundamentals
        plain yet pious Christians
      • 1861, Abraham Lincoln, Message to Congress in Special Session, July 4th
        the plain people
    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.]
    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.
      • c. 1603–1606, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of King Lear”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act II, scene v]:
        an honest mind, and plain, he must speak truth
      • 1749, Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, volume (please specify |volume=I to VI), London: 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.
      • 1711, Henry Felton, Dissertation on Reading the Classics
        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.
  6. (card games) Not a trump.
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.
  2. (archaic) Plainly; distinctly.
    Tell me plain: do you love me or no?

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.]
  2. (transitive, intransitive, now rare, poetic) To lament, bewail. [from 14th c.]
    to plain a loss
    • 1595, Ed. Spencer [i.e., Edmund Spenser], “Astrophel. A Pastoral Elegie vpon the Death of the Most Noble and Valorous Knight, Sir Philip Sidney.”, in Colin Clouts Come Home Againe, London: [] T[homas] C[reede] for William Ponsonbie, OCLC 1125540005:
      Shepheards, that wont []
      Oft times to plaine your loves concealed smart
    • c. 1600, Joseph Hall, Satires
      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.
    • 1834, L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], Francesca Carrara. [], volume III, London: Richard Bentley, [], (successor to Henry Colburn), OCLC 630079698, page 9:
      Then, again, she almost thought that the soft and wailing wind which swept mournfully through the sepulchral boughs of the large old yews, had a voice not of this world—was it the inarticulate plaining of her brother's gentle spirit, debarred from intercourse, but still keeping over her the deep and eternal watch of love?
    • 1936, 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). Doublet of llano, piano, and plane.

Noun[edit]

English Wikipedia has an article on:
Wikipedia
a plain

plain (plural plains)

  1. An expanse of land with relatively low relief, usually exclusive of forests, deserts, and wastelands.
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book I”, in Paradise Lost. [], London: [] [Samuel Simmons], [], OCLC 228722708; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, OCLC 230729554:
      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”
    Synonyms: flatland, grassland
    Hypernyms: land, terrain
    Hyponyms: prairie, steppe
  2. (archaic) Synonym of field in reference to a battlefield.
  3. (obsolete) Alternative spelling of plane: a flat geometric field.
Usage notes[edit]
  • As with grassland(s), flatland(s), etc., plains can function as the plural of plain (There are ten principal low plains on Mars) or as its synonym (She lives on the plains), with a vague sense of greater expansiveness.
Derived terms[edit]
Related terms[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.
  2. (obsolete, transitive) To make plain or manifest; to explain.

Etymology 4[edit]

From Middle English pleyn, borrowed from Old French plein, from Latin plēnus (full, filled, complete). Ultimately from Proto-Italic *plēnos, from Proto-Indo-European *pl̥h₁nós (full). Doublet of plene, plenary, and full.

Adjective[edit]

plain (comparative plainer, superlative plainest)

  1. (obsolete) Full, complete in number or extent.

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. Doublet of plan and piano.

Pronunciation[edit]

Adjective[edit]

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

  1. (obsolete) plane

Derived terms[edit]

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)
    Antonym: vuit
Descendants
  • French: plein

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