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From Middle English vanite, from Old French vanité, from Latin vanitas, from Latin vanus, whence English vain.



vanity ‎(plural vanities)

  1. That which is vain, futile, or worthless; that which is of no value, use or profit.
    • 1611, “Ecclesiastes 2:15-16”, in The King James Bible:
      Then I said in my heart, As it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me and why then was I more wise? Then I said in my heart that this is also vanity.
      For there is no more remembrance of the wise than the fool forever; seeing that which now is in the days to come shall all be forgotten. And how dieth the wise man? as the fool.
  2. Excessive pride in or admiration of one's own abilities, appearance or achievements.
  3. A dressing table used to apply makeup, preen, and coif hair. The table is normally quite low and similar to a desk, with drawers and one or more mirrors on top. Either a chair or bench is used to sit upon.
  4. A washbasin installed into a permanently fixed storage unit, used as an item of bathroom furniture.
  5. Emptiness.
  6. (obsolete) Any idea, theory or statement that is without foundation.
    • It is a vanity to say that if two stones are dropped from a tower, the heavier will experience the greater acceleration.
    • Francis Bacon
      To help the matter, the alchemists call in many vanities out of astrology.
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Particularly: "sense 3"


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