Main definitions of plain in English

: plain1plain2

plain1

adjective

  • 1Not decorated or elaborate; simple or basic in character.

    ‘good plain food’
    ‘everyone dined at a plain wooden table’
    • ‘Eight of the knives were plain, four were decorated, and two bore the likeness of the Sican Deity, believed by Sicans to rule the supernatural world.’
    • ‘She was surrounded by a simple, plain room with a wooden wardrobe and desk.’
    • ‘The foul weather also keeps most students at school in the middle of the day, making do with very simple food such as plain steamed buns and hot water, for lunch.’
    • ‘Although there was a variety of slightly different recipes, the one in my mind was a pretty basic recipe for plain chiffon cake, I thought.’
    • ‘I wanted to photograph the United States in its most basic, plain, everyday sense.’
    • ‘Today, she is wearing a plain black ankle-length dress decorated with flowers, perversely projecting a rather saintly look.’
    • ‘Thumb ring had amethyst jewel in the middle and the pinky ring was just a plain design with squiggly lines and dots, both were silver.’
    • ‘Interestingly the plain case holds the elaborately decorated cutlery while the filigree case houses the more restrained pieces.’
    • ‘Sans serif fonts are typically plain with constant line weight.’
    • ‘Yet, perhaps because he deals mainly with sophisticated food, he prefers plain cooking at home.’
    • ‘Food was very plain, of course, when I was young.’
    • ‘Their rich, sumptuous food contrasted with the simple and plain food prepared by the ordinary people of Nepal.’
    • ‘He liked plain food, without sauces or cheese, and plenty of fresh vegetables, including those grown in the garden of his estate.’
    • ‘All furniture forms were plain in design with simple or no surface decoration.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, it's downplaying such basics as khakis and plain blue jeans in favor of items like tops with matching belts.’
    • ‘The tables are plain pine, giving the whole restaurant a homely, farmhouse-kitchen feel.’
    • ‘Doors, all plain wood with similar lines of grain etched in each of them passed quickly on either side, and he soon found the one he was looking for.’
    • ‘There are nice wooden floors and plain walls with tasteful pictures.’
    • ‘Most of the available fountain soft drink providers offer a line of plain and flavored teas.’
    • ‘Because of her plain wool dress and basic hairstyle, I had assumed she would not know royal etiquette so in depth.’
    simple, ordinary, unadorned, undecorated, unembellished, unornamented, unpretentious, unostentatious, unfussy, homely, homespun, basic, modest, unsophisticated, penny plain, without frills
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Without a pattern; in only one colour.
      ‘a plain fabric’
      • ‘The pottery is usually plain and dark in colour, sometimes with channelled decoration and moulded handles.’
      • ‘It is more difficult to fool the eye with carpet but if you have to go this route, choose a random pattern or plain carpet.’
      • ‘Think creatively; add a flower pattern to a plain camisole or sew beads onto an old skirt.’
      • ‘If your heart is set on wallpaper, consider a plain colour or a small-scale print that you and your child won't tire of in years to come.’
      • ‘If you want to distract attention from your top half, go for a plain colour and style on top and a sexier bottom with side ties or lots of flamboyant detail.’
      • ‘As with gifts, people come in fancy wrapping that camouflages a dull interior, or plain wrapping that disguises a vibrant and exciting core.’
      • ‘Instead of the bold patterns and colours that are typical of that continent, I've used plain designs and neutral colours.’
      • ‘Go for plain solids or patterns that fit with fall themes, like floral or leaf patterns.’
      • ‘I cut an overly sweet cake and got a gift I do not remember except that it was covered with plain silver wrapping paper.’
      • ‘Combining a bright color with a muted one, or a plain fabric with a printed one, makes one set of place mats the equivalent of two.’
      • ‘Ascot rules dictate that they should be of a plain colour, and innocent of sponsors' logos.’
      • ‘The usual choice is a solid-color opaque fabric, but you might consider a print lining under a plain color or even a patterned sheer.’
      • ‘Do you change it frequently or are you a purist with just the plain default colour?’
      • ‘That line features brightly colored patterns or plain shirts over solid pants in a wide range of tones.’
      • ‘Sport it with a gray suit and plain white or patterned shirt.’
      • ‘If you don't want to diminish the Christmas morning surprise, wrap stocking stuffers in plain white or silver paper before tucking them inside.’
      • ‘Sarees that are mass-produced in plain and sober colours, have as much charm as the hand-woven ones that are heavily embroidered with intricate designs.’
      • ‘They wanted a more contemporary look, such as a chrome finish and plain fabrics.’
      • ‘The 1997 collage is made up of papers that are plain or dotted, striped and sponge-painted.’
      • ‘For so long, it's been black or linen in plain colours, and suddenly there's been an explosion of colour which is really inspiring people.’
    2. 1.2 (of paper) without lines.
      • ‘Bingo games also can be made just as easily by using plain white paper tri-folded lengthwise and widthwise to create a 9-cell grid.’
      • ‘At the moment there was a plain piece of paper on it.’
      • ‘He took it a couple of steps further though, faxing all the local Cleveland media outlets on plain white paper with his signature demanding a trade.’
      • ‘Use good quality, plain white paper and print your letter in the standard business letter format.’
      • ‘So, instead of finding my grandpa to tell him, I sit down on my desk, and, on a plain piece of paper, I start to write a letter.’
      • ‘It wasn't just a plain piece of A4 paper and it wasn't just stuck in a normal envelope.’
      • ‘Using plain white and ivory paper, straws and pipe cleaners, she creates faux gemstones, crystals and pearls.’
      • ‘If additional space is needed, continue on plain white, lettersize paper.’
      • ‘I find working on plain white paper with a ballpoint pen is the best way.’
      • ‘Before we started, we placed very large pieces of plain Manila paper on each desk, as a protective covering for the work surface.’
      • ‘Individually, an ant would get lost on a plain piece of paper.’
      • ‘Type your manuscript on plain white paper, double-spaced, using only one side of the page.’
      • ‘The next morning, we spent no more than an hour making the poster, writing George's slogan on a large plain brown paper wrapper with big black markers.’
      • ‘I gave the children a piece of plain white paper and challenged them to make their own envelopes.’
      • ‘Cover the work surface with plain newsprint or a drop cloth.’
      • ‘Previously the Police had recorded her complaint on a plain piece of paper.’
      • ‘As for the writing paper (which should never be called note paper), this must be plain, not lined, and white or ivory.’
      • ‘He would take the ashes and rub them on a second, apparently plain, piece of paper.’
      • ‘Inside was at least five stacks of plain white paper, along with seven pencil boxes.’
      • ‘So instead, we gave our applicants a plain, white paper bag and told them to ‘be creative.’’
    3. 1.3 Bearing no indication as to contents or affiliation.
      ‘donations can be put in a plain envelope’
      • ‘She held out a plain, brown paper parcel to him, roughly tied with string still dripping in bacon fat.’
      • ‘Taped to his door panel was a plain white envelope with his name neatly printed across the front in red ink.’
      • ‘In 1974, she was music director at WMMS, in Cleveland, when she received a record in a plain brown envelope.’
      • ‘David pulled a plain envelope from a coat pocket, giving it to the vicar and shaking his hand as the man gave his condolences.’
      • ‘So when a got a plain brown paper wrapped package in the mail from Nancy the other day, I knew it would not be safe to open in front of the kids.’
      • ‘Her gaze settled upon the last letter, a small, plain envelope addressed to her maiden name from someone she couldn't remember at first.’
      • ‘On the morning of April 5, 2001, he received a sealed, plain brown envelope addressed to him.’
      • ‘In the post, she received a blade for a hack-saw in a plain brown envelope.’
      • ‘When presented only with a plain ballot paper, even more may choose to express their concerns.’
      • ‘She folded the note and put it in a plain white envelope.’
      • ‘On the back of the imagination test was stapled a plain envelope that contained the ESP targets.’
      • ‘The envelope was a plain white one with no indication who it was from.’
      • ‘These envelopes, always plain white and small, are never opened until the two parties are far apart.’
      • ‘She didn't recognize the return address but turned it over, inspecting it carefully before tearing the paper off the plain box.’
      • ‘The plan is outlined in a government memo which was leaked to the environmental group Friends of the Earth in a plain brown envelope last week.’
      • ‘For those of you still staring suspiciously at the plain brown envelope from Canada Customs and Revenue, too fearful to open it up and find out how much they want from you - relax.’
      • ‘I received a plain white envelope in today's post, which I idly opened while still bleary-eyed and caffeine-free.’
      • ‘For me, the first shot at the ‘big story’ came in a plain brown envelope with no return address.’
      • ‘The letters arrived in plain envelopes with a Kelowna return address.’
      • ‘The plain envelope which landed on my desk was sent anonymously.’
  • 2Having no pretensions; not remarkable or special.

    ‘a plain, honest man with no nonsense about him’
    • ‘Meanwhile, plain folks toss around the word with abandon.’
    • ‘On the outside he was a plain guy, quite normal and polite, but once you got to know him, opinions started to take a turn for the worse.’
    • ‘Most importantly, the conviviums will include just plain folk.’
    • ‘But even with a lobbying budget of over $5 million last year, turning trial lawyers into plain folk may take some doing.’
    • ‘And so the politicians, the soldiers, the businessmen, and the plain folk decided it was best to give up their guns.’
    straightforward, unpretentious, simple, ordinary, average, unassuming, unaffected, honest-to-goodness, ingenuous, artless, guileless, sincere
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1attributive (of a person) without a special title or status.
      ‘for years he was just plain Bill’
      • ‘She was just plain Suzy, driving her sleeping family home after a day out at the coast.’
      • ‘They would wait until 1804 before electing plain Samuel as trustee.’
      • ‘For the most part, she just called him plain Jack.’
  • 3Easy to perceive or understand; clear.

    ‘the advantages were plain to see’
    ‘it was plain that something was wrong’
    • ‘On several occasions it was quite plain that he had lapsed into his Porky Pig routine as he normally does when the heat is on or he has been caught out lying to the people again.’
    • ‘To an outsider, it's one of the hardest things to understand about the company, but the benefits are plain to see on stage.’
    • ‘On the day both teams showed great determination, and it was plain to see that winning would be no easy task.’
    • ‘It is increasingly plain that we do want a more engaged, modern head of state - but we are asking the single most ill-equipped family in the country to provide one.’
    • ‘‘Let me make it absolutely plain that of course burglary is an enormously upsetting offence,’ he said.’
    • ‘Even without the GATS treaty, it's plain that global trade in services is already testing our notions of national sovereignty.’
    • ‘‘It is plain that had you not had alcohol you would not have resorted to these measures,’ he said.’
    • ‘Really, your Honours, if that is what the court meant to be saying, it is directly contrary to what they have said elsewhere and what was plain on the papers.’
    • ‘Like many of us, it is also plain that he cannot understand why.’
    • ‘It is plain that many regard the new obligation contained in the Code of Ethics to provide reasons for decision as detracting from what they regard as an efficient system.’
    • ‘The team's development is plain to see and another thoroughly professional job against a committed, if limited, Swinton only underlines Leigh's potential.’
    • ‘The lack of highway capacity is plain to see as daily congestion is a fact of life on most key roads that link one province to another throughout Java, the country's economic center.’
    • ‘If all this proves he's an intelligent songwriter, it's also plain that he is in touch in an all-American way with his inner man.’
    • ‘Considering that only one third of domestic violence incidents are reported, it is plain that as well as domestic violence being a national concern, it is here, in our York communities.’
    • ‘He draws an awful lot of fire, that's plain to see.’
    • ‘Since he clearly understands the law, it's plain that if we take him at his word, he appears to believe in free speech only for himself.’
    • ‘It is plain that lower interest rates make it cheaper for all to borrow.’
    • ‘But once over the zebra crossing and up close, it was plain that these two artists couldn't be more different.’
    • ‘Returning to our correspondent's writings in The Age of 8 April 1998, it's plain that neither is the case.’
    • ‘After all, it's plain that nothing really dreadful or heartbreaking could possibly happen to people this pleasant or cultured.’
    obvious, clear, crystal clear, as clear as crystal, evident, apparent, manifest, patent, visible, discernible, perceptible, perceivable, noticeable, detectable, recognizable, observable, unmistakable, transparent, palpable, distinct, pronounced, marked, striking, conspicuous, overt, self-evident, indisputable
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    1. 3.1attributive (of written or spoken usage) clearly expressed, without the use of technical or abstruse terms.
      ‘an insurance policy written in plain English’
      • ‘And when we do talk about it, we should do so clearly, in plain English - not in jumbled phrases of design jargon.’
      • ‘In the United States, 44 of the 50 states require insurance contracts to be written in plain English.’
      • ‘To put it in plain language, let's suppose that here in front of us there is an animal and a man.’
      • ‘All our information is free, independent and written in plain English.’
      • ‘This information is written in plain English and is not suitable for computer analysis.’
      • ‘Financial jargon is becoming a thing of the past due to IFSRA's efforts to educate consumers and encourage the financial industry to speak in plain English.’
      • ‘His content is in Farsi, Farsi written phonetically with English characters and plain English.’
      • ‘As with a lot of things in life, it's the preparation that often determines the success or failure of an effort to write documents in plain English.’
      • ‘Unless it is printed clearly in plain English, it could be misinterpreted.’
      • ‘Explanations of terms should be in plain English.’
      • ‘The award was presented by the Plain English Campaign - an independent pressure group that campaigns for information to be written in plain English.’
      • ‘They write in plain English, without jargon, and distill lengthy statements into clear, concise tables understandable at a glance.’
      • ‘I think the candidates need to be very specific and speak in plain English.’
      • ‘Prices are still going up but service does seem to have improved and restaurateurs are beginning to write menus in plain English.’
      • ‘Even so, we cannot see how this helps plaintiffs' contention that the plain meaning of ‘retail pet store’ does not include residences.’
      • ‘Lancashire County Council's 32-page guide has been sent out to all officers and sets out rules on how to write letters in plain English.’
      • ‘When it comes to the front page, newspapers favor plain language, in part to protect the readers from the seductions of rhetoric, of art.’
      • ‘On the other hand, he is fond of the kind of design analysis that leaves the uninitiated wishing he would speak in plain English, in terms the layman can understand.’
      • ‘Manufacturers are not legally-obliged to provide you with a guarantee, but if they do it must be in plain English and clearly explain how to make a claim.’
      • ‘What essentially is the debate about how to read a text that's written in plain English?’
      intelligible, comprehensible, understandable, coherent, accessible, uncomplicated, lucid, perspicuous, unambiguous, clear, simple, straightforward, clearly expressed, clear-cut, direct, digestible, user-friendly
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    2. 3.2 Not using concealment or deception; frank.
      ‘there were indrawn breaths at such plain speaking’
      • ‘It is apparent to him that his plain speaking is the reason for these attacks, and this goes to show that his statements are true.’
      • ‘She was down to earth, plain speaking, kind and considerate.’
      • ‘It does not commend itself to the masses, which say they like plain speaking, and it cannot be translated into action, which may be good or evil or neither but cannot be both.’
      • ‘The awards, designed to draw attention to the need for plain speaking, are now in their 23rd year and were celebrated at a ceremony in central London yesterday.’
      • ‘His great Northern instinct for plain speaking, his sharp wit and irreverence will be greatly missed.’
      • ‘Is this issue beneath this great Prime Minister, who is blunt, and plain speaking, and goes on the front foot?’
      • ‘But he easily outclassed him in argument and plain speaking.’
      • ‘The wooden spoon may beckon for St Johnstone, but were there an award for plain speaking, the club chairman would be an undoubted front-runner.’
      • ‘He is from an era when blunt and plain speaking was applauded.’
      • ‘Nothing is more artificial than plain speaking.’
      • ‘Too often what one has regarded as necessary plain speaking, the other has seen has offensive insensitivity.’
      • ‘Athletics coaches and administrators, not to mention a few journalists, have been on the receiving end of her plain speaking over the years.’
      • ‘Which is, I am sure you will agree, plain speaking.’
      • ‘The Daily Mail claimed that his honesty and plain speaking is the best defence Britain could have against extremism and social unrest.’
      • ‘The billboards are the primary examples of that, projecting him as the plain speaking, not-quite-politician.’
      • ‘Honesty and plain speaking are not virtues for politicians and diplomats.’
      • ‘I realise, of course, that honesty is a thoroughly dangerous habit, but the avoidance of plain speaking is probably, in the long run, more destructive.’
      • ‘If humour does not do the trick, we must hope for enlightenment from plain speaking - from education of the public in the ways of their government.’
      • ‘Their politics were radically different, but each man believed plain speaking was essential to a democracy because it was the only way to tell the truth.’
      • ‘He was once a naive believer in the freedom of expression and the virtues of plain speaking - formerly a tradition in the north of England.’
      candid, frank, outspoken, forthright, plain-spoken, direct, honest, truthful, blunt, downright, unvarnished, bald, straight from the shoulder, explicit, unequivocal
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  • 4(of a person) not beautiful or attractive.

    ‘a plain, round-faced woman’
    • ‘She's a plain girl, and dresses in what is best suited, not best looking.’
    • ‘What is he, really, except a plain boy with unkempt hair?’
    • ‘Never before had she worried about what she looked like or being ignored, in fact she had wished that she was plain in features and thus left alone to do whatever she desired.’
    • ‘The plain girl was normally quick on the uptake, but it took her a few moments before the horrible realization dawned that none of those dresses had been for her after all.’
    • ‘I'm plain, I know I am, but I also know that if I tried I could be beautiful.’
    • ‘I tried to care for her and the child, and it was the most dreadful thing to see her change from that bubbling, bright girl into a tired, plain woman.’
    • ‘During the story, he becomes ashamed of his plain wife.’
    • ‘I had never come across a story where the girl was plain or ugly.’
    • ‘She was plain to behold, but he knew the signs: she would blossom into a beautiful young woman.’
    • ‘Perfect posture can make a plain person stunningly attractive.’
    • ‘My brother and sister are so plain compared to yours!’
    • ‘Only Fanny remains convinced that he is quite plain.’
    • ‘She was an average looking girl, but she was plain like white paint.’
    • ‘She had always been a plain child, though anyone who looked at her could tell who her mother was, for she looked much like her mother.’
    • ‘I always used to look at myself as sort of a plain person.’
    • ‘Their kids would probably be plain, bare and simple-minded.’
    • ‘He was a plain man of medium height and build.’
    • ‘Do they choose plain girls with no education or sense of style, and who will happily consider going to McDonalds on Saturday night?’
    • ‘It was nice to see such an attractive Ruth as often she is rather plain compared to Elvira.’
    • ‘He was plain, dark-haired, and slender with a long nose.’
    unattractive, unprepossessing, as plain as a pikestaff, ugly, ill-favoured, unlovely, ordinary-looking
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  • 5attributive Sheer; simple (used for emphasis)

    ‘the main problem is just plain exhaustion’
    • ‘Some are flipped, inverted, and just plain dyslexic.’
    • ‘Plus, it's just plain exhausting trying to say productive, generous, and constructive things all the time.’
    • ‘As for her, she's just plain exasperated, what with that nose hanging off her face and a score pounding nonstop at her temples.’
    • ‘On second thought, maybe that's just plain weird.’
    • ‘The suggestion that cabinet would sit there listening to tapes for hours on end is just plain silly.’
    • ‘Is it appropriate punishment or just plain politics?’
    • ‘Minimizing the number of systems that engineers deal with is also key, so that making GM products is cheaper and just plain simpler.’
    • ‘The first is to create publicly accessible data about bloggers' personalities, which may have sociological value in addition to being just plain fun.’
    • ‘Many died from malnutrition, fighting, or just plain exhaustion before even getting to the construction sites.’
    • ‘Who knows are they being ironic or just plain silly?’
    • ‘Americans are just plain worn out from all that success.’
    • ‘And of course half the audience was just plain bored, because it all seemed rather plotless and longhaired.’
    • ‘The two have no chemistry, and his personality is plain awful.’
    • ‘He was sharp and hard hitting, tender and sincere, funny and mischievous, humble and playful, and just plain entertaining.’
    • ‘If you feel overwhelmed, exhausted or just plain rundown, you probably are dealing with unhealthy amounts of stress.’
    • ‘After a good twenty minutes in one of these megastores, however, experience tells that the dizzy anticipation is usually replaced by just plain dizziness.’
    • ‘It's a silly train wreck of a show, and at some point, you realize these kids are just plain bored.’
    • ‘Seeing Mr. Universe look like this is just plain wrong.’
    • ‘He'd thrown so many blows - to little apparent effect - that he was just plain tired.’
    • ‘That, as a factual judgment, I think is just plain wrong.’
    sheer, pure, downright, out-and-out, unmitigated, rank, nothing other than
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  • 6Denoting or relating to a knitting stitch made by putting the needle through the front of the stitch from left to right.

    Compare with purl
    • ‘She offered a more varied needlework curriculum of plain work, marking, openwork, and embroidery along with reading and writing.’
    • ‘When working the 101st row, knit the margin, also 9 stripes of the pattern, then knit 30 plain stitches, and resume the pattern to the end.’

adverb

informal
  • 1as submodifier Used for emphasis.

    ‘perhaps the youth was just plain stupid’
    • ‘Was there a similar shakedown then of the just plain stupid ideas as we are experiencing now?’
    • ‘They should have been happy at the prospect of fresh air, swathes of green and house prices which are stupid rather than plain insane.’
    • ‘Think again; you do not have to have been personally liable, stupid or plain dangerous.’
    • ‘When you see counterproductive, invasive, or just plain stupid security, don't let it slip by.’
    • ‘There is town pride; and then there is just plain egocentric stupidity.’
    • ‘It seems quite simply to be plain clueless power-grabbing, to me.’
    • ‘Some of the designs seem, at first glance, a little too complex and just too plain clever for their or New York's good.’
    • ‘Many of the styles back in the day were simply horrid, amusing or plain bizarre.’
    • ‘Now, we get to some other typos and a lot of just plain stupid false comments that were made in this book.’
    • ‘Most of the posters on étapes are just plain ugly.’
    • ‘I must say this up front: I have zero love of the so-called thug style, on ballplayers or anybody else - it's just plain ugly to me.’
    • ‘And who hasn't raved about a movie or a book that somebody has found to be totally inane or just plain boring?’
    • ‘Your statement on Nicaragua shows how utterly naive and just plain stupid you are.’
    • ‘Submissions - poetic, pathetic and just plain bizarre - fall into categories like Pride, Envy, Sloth and Gluttony.’
    • ‘He plays a single parent thief whose diplomatic skills take the form of naked and, at times, plain stupid aggression.’
    • ‘The trouble with most of the right wing positions are that they are just plain old fashioned stupid.’
    • ‘That kind of business-as-usual strategy would have been considered hubris or just plain stupid a decade ago, but the sands have shifted.’
    • ‘And finally, if you're over a size 6, have stretch marks or visible scars, or are simply plain ugly - don't despair!’
    • ‘She was either completely clueless or just plain spiteful.’
    • ‘I mean, let's be honest here, asking you to better it would be just plain greedy of me, wouldn't it?’
    downright, utterly, absolutely, completely, totally, really, thoroughly, positively, profoundly, categorically, simply, incontrovertibly, unquestionably, undeniably
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  • 2Clearly or unequivocally.

    ‘I'm finished with you, I'll tell you plain’
    • ‘We warned him plain.’
    • ‘I'll tell you plain that I'm pretty rough myself, but you're mighty shady company even for Billy.’
    • ‘He was speaking plain enough to be very intelligible to Emma.’

noun

  • A large area of flat land with few trees.

    ‘the coastal plain’
    • ‘A wide area of coastal plains extends across the western seaboard, a region of phosphate mining and the cultivation of citrus, olives, tobacco, and grains.’
    • ‘Your garden may be influenced by very different topography: mountains, hills, flat or rolling plains.’
    • ‘The landscape includes flat desert plains, rugged savanna, and volcanic mountains.’
    • ‘To the east of the Futa Jallon is Upper Guinea, a savanna region with plains and river valleys.’
    • ‘But it could mean the difference between living half-way up a mountain or living in a valley; living by the sea or living on a plain in a land-locked area.’
    • ‘Most of the population live in highly urbanized areas along the coastal plains.’
    • ‘In the Gobi area, you will find mountains, plains, steppes, forests and barren areas.’
    • ‘The zebras were once abundant in the plains and highly wooded areas of Africa, East and South of Sahara and forests of west from Ethiopia and Angola to the cape.’
    • ‘The earthquake struck an area that is mostly barren plains with scattered fertile land, in the shadow of the snow-crested mountains of the Hindu Kush.’
    • ‘With these they are able to dramatise plains, prairies, steppes and meadows.’
    • ‘Over the last century, internal migration has overwhelmingly been from mountains to plains, inland to coastal areas, and rural to urban settlements.’
    • ‘The area covers 1,200 hectares of land and consists of flat plains, foothills and a white sandy beach, sloping down towards a crystal blue sea.’
    • ‘They inhabit tundra, alpine meadows, coastal plains near salmon runs, and rivers and valleys.’
    • ‘During high river discharges, overbank flows flooded extensive areas of the delta plain, creating swamps, coastal lakes and ephemeral channels.’
    • ‘I assume our fathers saw these swells of land as flat and grassy plains like prairies.’
    • ‘Belgium's major geographic divisions are the coastal lowlands, the central plain, and the high plateau of the Ardennes.’
    • ‘Two long, sandy plains dominate the coastal areas along the Indian Ocean to the east.’
    • ‘It consists of flat rocky plains, rocky mesas (land formations) in the south, and sandy dunes in the north.’
    • ‘This area is surrounded by sandy plains and salt marshes.’
    • ‘The land terrain in Cambodia is mostly made up of low lands, flat plains, with mountains in the Southwest and north.’
    grassland, flatland, lowland, pasture, meadowland, open country, prairie, savannah, steppe
    View synonyms

Phrases

  • as plain as the nose on someone's face

    • informal Very obvious.

      ‘I knew what he was up to—it was as plain as the nose on his face’
      • ‘After the verdict was handed down, the press were talking to the jurors, interviewing the jury, and the one juror said Michael's innocence was as plain as the nose on his face.’
      • ‘The state of your health is literally as plain as the nose on your face, according to such ancient healing systems as Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine.’
      • ‘The humanitarian answer is as plain as the nose on your face.’
      • ‘Anyway it was as plain as the nose on your face that for him to have a chance they needed to take Steve and probably Jarrod into the final, but he has this curious article of faith that you don't need ruckmen.’
      • ‘What's the point of saying something that is as plain as the nose on your face?’
      • ‘After eliminating the impossibilities, the master of deduction explained, he had been left with one simple irrevocable conclusion, as plain as the nose on one's face.’
      • ‘He explained why he chose him: ‘That was a decision I felt had to be made as plain as the nose on my face - and that's fairly apparent.’’
      • ‘I recognized that deeply buried and at times right there as plain as the nose on my face - were plot elements of Bram Stoker's story that I had been unaware of.’
      • ‘The linkage between political and paramilitary unionism is as plain as the nose on your face, but not enough, it seems, to inspire an Irish Times editorial entitled ‘DUP / Ulster Resistance’.’
      • ‘She was lying and both of them knew it as plain as the nose on her face.’
  • in plain sight (or view)

    • In a place that is clearly visible.

      ‘very important clues are hidden in plain sight’
      • ‘Never leave your laptop in plain sight; cover it or put it in the trunk.’
      • ‘The footage was shot in plain view of the authorities who were present.’
      • ‘The blackmail note that the police are looking for is in plain sight.’
      • ‘At times in this game, you'll be spotted despite the fact that you are seemingly well hidden, and at other times a guard will look right through you when you're standing in plain view.’
      • ‘His appearance is unremarkable, and that makes it possible for him to hide in plain sight.’
      • ‘She was in plain view all the time, but everyone was so worried they didn't see her.’
      • ‘Often, these places post the nutrition information of their menus in plain view.’
      • ‘There are many unsolved mysteries in the decorative arts, and, as in some detective stories, the clue to their solution has been in plain sight all the time.’
      • ‘Officers found the fragment of one bullet lying in plain sight on the vehicle's driver's seat.’
      • ‘The enemy is in plain sight, caught in their cross hairs.’
      • ‘The ancient mysteries are hidden in plain sight.’
      • ‘The card was hidden in plain view - not concealed under, inside or beneath anything - but that didn't seem to make it easy to find.’
      • ‘Even now, watching this ballet, I have "eureka" moments when I discover another bit of meaning hidden in plain sight.’
      • ‘The card is placed out of play but kept in plain sight.’
      • ‘He notices a hawk resting in plain view on a tree limb a hundred yards distant.’
  • plain and simple

    • informal Used to emphasize the statement preceding or following.

      ‘she was a nuisance, plain and simple’
      • ‘He is a songwriter - and his approach to his craft is as plain and simple as that statement.’
      • ‘It's about Toronto taking control of the look of our city, plain and simple.’
      • ‘Harsh though it may seem, in the end this is justice plain and simple.’
      • ‘A ‘real’ hunter does not kill to watch things suffer - he kills for food, plain and simple.’
      • ‘‘These people are not nationalists, they are criminals plain and simple,’ he said.’
      • ‘These costs are the result of bad business, plain and simple; overspending on fringe players who did not play a significant role.’
      • ‘At 44 years old, and as the most decorated female athlete of all time, she's a phenomenon, plain and simple.’
      • ‘To be completely frank with you, the main reason that there is no comments system here is because I'm a control freak, plain and simple.’
      • ‘It's paper, plain and simple, and that will never change.’
      • ‘Without them this show wouldn't have happened, plain and simple.’
  • plain as day

    • informal Very clearly.

      • ‘A simple assertion, plain as day, coming from someone who ought to know.’
      • ‘Your contempt for anyone who disagrees with you is plain as day.’
      • ‘It has been as plain as day for three decades that the day would come when oil supply could no longer increase at the same rate as demand, and all the evidence is that that is starting to happen this year.’
      • ‘Yet many contemporaries worried that lawyers were merely complicating matters that ought to be as plain as day.’
      • ‘The Moody Blues were an old-school British Invasion-trained band playing only to score chart hits, plain as day, and some might say in a manner much more shameless than some of their less pretentious competitors.’
      • ‘It's plain as day that the levelers are a very creative bunch of people that know how to design interesting and tension filled challenges.’
      • ‘Maybe not to the other, but I can see it plain as day.’
      • ‘It's plain as day that you two were meant to be together.’
      • ‘What's lacking though, is plain as day: the lyrics here are generally horrendous, but always unintentionally funny.’
      • ‘This is pure, one-man-band, Presidential propaganda, and we can all see it, as plain as day.’

Origin

Middle English: from Old French plain, from Latin planus, from a base meaning ‘flat’.

Pronunciation

plain

/pleɪn/

Main definitions of plain in English

: plain1plain2

plain2

verb

[NO OBJECT]archaic
  • 1Mourn or lament.

    • ‘'Oh, Rover, don't you leave me, too,' she plained out.’
    1. 1.1 Complain.
      • ‘When she was entertained she plained about her new-found fame.’
    2. 1.2 Emit a mournful or plaintive sound.
      • ‘She plained of love; she longed for wings.’

Origin

Middle English: from Old French plaindre, from Latin plangere ‘to lament’.

Pronunciation

plain

/pleɪn/