Main definitions of plain in US English:

: plain1plain2



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

    ‘good plain food’
    ‘everyone dined at a plain wooden table’
    • ‘Sans serif fonts are typically plain with constant line weight.’
    • ‘All furniture forms were plain in design with simple or no surface decoration.’
    • ‘I wanted to photograph the United States in its most basic, plain, everyday sense.’
    • ‘Interestingly the plain case holds the elaborately decorated cutlery while the filigree case houses the more restrained pieces.’
    • ‘Food was very plain, of course, when I was young.’
    • ‘The tables are plain pine, giving the whole restaurant a homely, farmhouse-kitchen feel.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She was surrounded by a simple, plain room with a wooden wardrobe and desk.’
    • ‘Because of her plain wool dress and basic hairstyle, I had assumed she would not know royal etiquette so in depth.’
    • ‘There are nice wooden floors and plain walls with tasteful pictures.’
    • ‘Yet, perhaps because he deals mainly with sophisticated food, he prefers plain cooking at home.’
    • ‘Their rich, sumptuous food contrasted with the simple and plain food prepared by the ordinary people of Nepal.’
    • ‘Most of the available fountain soft drink providers offer a line of plain and flavored teas.’
    • ‘Today, she is wearing a plain black ankle-length dress decorated with flowers, perversely projecting a rather saintly look.’
    • ‘He liked plain food, without sauces or cheese, and plenty of fresh vegetables, including those grown in the garden of his estate.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, it's downplaying such basics as khakis and plain blue jeans in favor of items like tops with matching belts.’
    • ‘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.’
    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 color.
      ‘a plain fabric’
      • ‘As with gifts, people come in fancy wrapping that camouflages a dull interior, or plain wrapping that disguises a vibrant and exciting core.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I cut an overly sweet cake and got a gift I do not remember except that it was covered with plain silver wrapping paper.’
      • ‘Think creatively; add a flower pattern to a plain camisole or sew beads onto an old skirt.’
      • ‘Do you change it frequently or are you a purist with just the plain default colour?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘That line features brightly colored patterns or plain shirts over solid pants in a wide range of tones.’
      • ‘They wanted a more contemporary look, such as a chrome finish and plain fabrics.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The pottery is usually plain and dark in colour, sometimes with channelled decoration and moulded handles.’
      • ‘Sport it with a gray suit and plain white or patterned shirt.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The 1997 collage is made up of papers that are plain or dotted, striped and sponge-painted.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If you don't want to diminish the Christmas morning surprise, wrap stocking stuffers in plain white or silver paper before tucking them inside.’
      • ‘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.’
    2. 1.2 Bearing no indication as to source, contents, or affiliation.
      ‘donations can be put in a plain 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.’
      • ‘The plain envelope which landed on my desk was sent anonymously.’
      • ‘In the post, she received a blade for a hack-saw in a plain brown envelope.’
      • ‘For me, the first shot at the ‘big story’ came in a plain brown envelope with no return address.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In 1974, she was music director at WMMS, in Cleveland, when she received a record in a plain brown envelope.’
      • ‘I received a plain white envelope in today's post, which I idly opened while still bleary-eyed and caffeine-free.’
      • ‘The letters arrived in plain envelopes with a Kelowna return address.’
      • ‘These envelopes, always plain white and small, are never opened until the two parties are far apart.’
      • ‘The envelope was a plain white one with no indication who it was from.’
      • ‘Taped to his door panel was a plain white envelope with his name neatly printed across the front in red ink.’
      • ‘On the back of the imagination test was stapled a plain envelope that contained the ESP targets.’
      • ‘David pulled a plain envelope from a coat pocket, giving it to the vicar and shaking his hand as the man gave his condolences.’
      • ‘On the morning of April 5, 2001, he received a sealed, plain brown envelope addressed to him.’
      • ‘Her gaze settled upon the last letter, a small, plain envelope addressed to her maiden name from someone she couldn't remember at first.’
      • ‘She held out a plain, brown paper parcel to him, roughly tied with string still dripping in bacon fat.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 2(of a person) having no pretensions; not remarkable or special.

    ‘a plain, honest man with no nonsense about him’
    • ‘Most importantly, the conviviums will include just plain folk.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘And so the politicians, the soldiers, the businessmen, and the plain folk decided it was best to give up their guns.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, plain folks toss around the word with abandon.’
    • ‘But even with a lobbying budget of over $5 million last year, turning trial lawyers into plain folk may take some doing.’
    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’
      • ‘For the most part, she just called him plain Jack.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 3Easy to perceive or understand; clear.

    ‘the advantages were plain to see’
    ‘it was plain that something was very 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.’
    • ‘‘Let me make it absolutely plain that of course burglary is an enormously upsetting offence,’ he said.’
    • ‘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 had you not had alcohol you would not have resorted to these measures,’ he said.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He draws an awful lot of fire, that's plain to see.’
    • ‘It is plain that lower interest rates make it cheaper for all to borrow.’
    • ‘Even without the GATS treaty, it's plain that global trade in services is already testing our notions of national sovereignty.’
    • ‘To an outsider, it's one of the hardest things to understand about the company, but the benefits are plain to see on stage.’
    • ‘But once over the zebra crossing and up close, it was plain that these two artists couldn't be more different.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘On the day both teams showed great determination, and it was plain to see that winning would be no easy task.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Like many of us, it is also plain that he cannot understand why.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    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.
      ‘written in plain English’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This information is written in plain English and is not suitable for computer analysis.’
      • ‘Even so, we cannot see how this helps plaintiffs' contention that the plain meaning of ‘retail pet store’ does not include residences.’
      • ‘His content is in Farsi, Farsi written phonetically with English characters and plain English.’
      • ‘All our information is free, independent and written in plain English.’
      • ‘Explanations of terms should be in plain English.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘To put it in plain language, let's suppose that here in front of us there is an animal and a man.’
      • ‘I think the candidates need to be very specific and speak 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.’
      • ‘Prices are still going up but service does seem to have improved and restaurateurs are beginning to write menus in plain English.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Unless it is printed clearly in plain English, it could be misinterpreted.’
      • ‘When it comes to the front page, newspapers favor plain language, in part to protect the readers from the seductions of rhetoric, of art.’
      • ‘They write in plain English, without jargon, and distill lengthy statements into clear, concise tables understandable at a glance.’
      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.
      ‘he recalled her 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.’
      • ‘His great Northern instinct for plain speaking, his sharp wit and irreverence will be greatly missed.’
      • ‘But he easily outclassed him in argument and plain speaking.’
      • ‘Honesty and plain speaking are not virtues for politicians and diplomats.’
      • ‘Too often what one has regarded as necessary plain speaking, the other has seen has offensive insensitivity.’
      • ‘Which is, I am sure you will agree, plain speaking.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He is from an era when blunt and plain speaking was applauded.’
      • ‘The billboards are the primary examples of that, projecting him as the plain speaking, not-quite-politician.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Nothing is more artificial than plain speaking.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Athletics coaches and administrators, not to mention a few journalists, have been on the receiving end of her plain speaking over the years.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The Daily Mail claimed that his honesty and plain speaking is the best defence Britain could have against extremism and social unrest.’
      • ‘Is this issue beneath this great Prime Minister, who is blunt, and plain speaking, and goes on the front foot?’
      • ‘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.’
      candid, frank, outspoken, forthright, plain-spoken, direct, honest, truthful, blunt, downright, unvarnished, bald, straight from the shoulder, explicit, unequivocal
      View synonyms
  • 4(of a person) not beautiful or attractive.

    ‘the dark-haired, rather plain woman’
    • ‘He was a plain man of medium height and build.’
    • ‘What is he, really, except a plain boy with unkempt hair?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He was plain, dark-haired, and slender with a long nose.’
    • ‘Perfect posture can make a plain person stunningly attractive.’
    • ‘She was an average looking girl, but she was plain like white paint.’
    • ‘My brother and sister are so plain compared to yours!’
    • ‘She's a plain girl, and dresses in what is best suited, not best looking.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I'm plain, I know I am, but I also know that if I tried I could be beautiful.’
    • ‘I had never come across a story where the girl was plain or ugly.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Their kids would probably be plain, bare and simple-minded.’
    • ‘Do they choose plain girls with no education or sense of style, and who will happily consider going to McDonalds on Saturday night?’
    • ‘She was plain to behold, but he knew the signs: she would blossom into a beautiful young woman.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It was nice to see such an attractive Ruth as often she is rather plain compared to Elvira.’
    • ‘I always used to look at myself as sort of a plain person.’
    • ‘During the story, he becomes ashamed of his plain wife.’
    • ‘Only Fanny remains convinced that he is quite plain.’
    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’
    • ‘Who knows are they being ironic or just plain silly?’
    • ‘As for her, she's just plain exasperated, what with that nose hanging off her face and a score pounding nonstop at her temples.’
    • ‘It's a silly train wreck of a show, and at some point, you realize these kids are just plain bored.’
    • ‘Minimizing the number of systems that engineers deal with is also key, so that making GM products is cheaper and just plain simpler.’
    • ‘Some are flipped, inverted, and just plain dyslexic.’
    • ‘Is it appropriate punishment or just plain politics?’
    • ‘On second thought, maybe that's just plain weird.’
    • ‘After a good twenty minutes in one of these megastores, however, experience tells that the dizzy anticipation is usually replaced by just plain dizziness.’
    • ‘Americans are just plain worn out from all that success.’
    • ‘He'd thrown so many blows - to little apparent effect - that he was just plain tired.’
    • ‘If you feel overwhelmed, exhausted or just plain rundown, you probably are dealing with unhealthy amounts of stress.’
    • ‘The two have no chemistry, and his personality is plain awful.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He was sharp and hard hitting, tender and sincere, funny and mischievous, humble and playful, and just plain entertaining.’
    • ‘That, as a factual judgment, I think is just plain wrong.’
    • ‘Plus, it's just plain exhausting trying to say productive, generous, and constructive things all the time.’
    • ‘The suggestion that cabinet would sit there listening to tapes for hours on end is just plain silly.’
    • ‘And of course half the audience was just plain bored, because it all seemed rather plotless and longhaired.’
    • ‘Seeing Mr. Universe look like this is just plain wrong.’
    sheer, pure, downright, out-and-out, unmitigated, rank, nothing other than
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  • 6Denoting or relating to a type of knitting stitch produced by putting the needle through the front of each stitch from left to right.

    Also called knit (adjective)
    • ‘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.’


  • as submodifier Clearly; unequivocally (used for emphasis)

    ‘perhaps the youth was just plain stupid’
    • ‘When you see counterproductive, invasive, or just plain stupid security, don't let it slip by.’
    • ‘And who hasn't raved about a movie or a book that somebody has found to be totally inane or just plain boring?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Was there a similar shakedown then of the just plain stupid ideas as we are experiencing now?’
    • ‘She was either completely clueless or just plain spiteful.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It seems quite simply to be plain clueless power-grabbing, to me.’
    • ‘There is town pride; and then there is just plain egocentric stupidity.’
    • ‘Most of the posters on étapes are just plain ugly.’
    • ‘That kind of business-as-usual strategy would have been considered hubris or just plain stupid a decade ago, but the sands have shifted.’
    • ‘Think again; you do not have to have been personally liable, stupid or plain dangerous.’
    • ‘Your statement on Nicaragua shows how utterly naive and just plain stupid you are.’
    • ‘They should have been happy at the prospect of fresh air, swathes of green and house prices which are stupid rather than plain insane.’
    • ‘Some of the designs seem, at first glance, a little too complex and just too plain clever for their or New York's good.’
    • ‘The trouble with most of the right wing positions are that they are just plain old fashioned stupid.’
    • ‘Many of the styles back in the day were simply horrid, amusing or plain bizarre.’
    • ‘And finally, if you're over a size 6, have stretch marks or visible scars, or are simply plain ugly - don't despair!’
    • ‘I mean, let's be honest here, asking you to better it would be just plain greedy of me, wouldn't it?’
    • ‘Now, we get to some other typos and a lot of just plain stupid false comments that were made in this book.’
    downright, utterly, absolutely, completely, totally, really, thoroughly, positively, profoundly, categorically, simply, incontrovertibly, unquestionably, undeniably
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  • 1A large area of flat land with few trees.

    Compare with prairie
    • ‘With these they are able to dramatise plains, prairies, steppes and meadows.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Belgium's major geographic divisions are the coastal lowlands, the central plain, and the high plateau of the Ardennes.’
    • ‘To the east of the Futa Jallon is Upper Guinea, a savanna region with plains and river valleys.’
    • ‘During high river discharges, overbank flows flooded extensive areas of the delta plain, creating swamps, coastal lakes and ephemeral channels.’
    • ‘They inhabit tundra, alpine meadows, coastal plains near salmon runs, and rivers and valleys.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Over the last century, internal migration has overwhelmingly been from mountains to plains, inland to coastal areas, and rural to urban settlements.’
    • ‘In the Gobi area, you will find mountains, plains, steppes, forests and barren areas.’
    • ‘Your garden may be influenced by very different topography: mountains, hills, flat or rolling plains.’
    • ‘Two long, sandy plains dominate the coastal areas along the Indian Ocean to the east.’
    • ‘The land terrain in Cambodia is mostly made up of low lands, flat plains, with mountains in the Southwest and north.’
    • ‘I assume our fathers saw these swells of land as flat and grassy plains like prairies.’
    • ‘It consists of flat rocky plains, rocky mesas (land formations) in the south, and sandy dunes in the north.’
    • ‘Most of the population live in highly urbanized areas along the coastal plains.’
    • ‘The landscape includes flat desert plains, rugged savanna, and volcanic mountains.’
    • ‘This area is surrounded by sandy plains and salt marshes.’
    grassland, flatland, lowland, pasture, meadowland, open country, prairie, savannah, steppe
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1the Plains
      another term for Great Plains


  • as plain as the nose on one's face

    • informal Very obvious.

      • ‘What's the point of saying something that is as plain as the nose on your face?’
      • ‘She was lying and both of them knew it as plain as the nose on her 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.’
      • ‘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’.’
      • ‘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 humanitarian answer 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’’
      • ‘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.’
  • in plain sight (or view)

    • In a place that is clearly visible.

      ‘very important clues are hidden in plain sight’
      • ‘The card is placed out of play but kept in plain sight.’
      • ‘The blackmail note that the police are looking for is in plain sight.’
      • ‘He notices a hawk resting in plain view on a tree limb a hundred yards distant.’
      • ‘She was in plain view all the time, but everyone was so worried they didn't see her.’
      • ‘Never leave your laptop in plain sight; cover it or put it in the trunk.’
      • ‘Often, these places post the nutrition information of their menus in plain view.’
      • ‘The footage was shot in plain view of the authorities who were present.’
      • ‘The ancient mysteries are hidden in plain sight.’
      • ‘His appearance is unremarkable, and that makes it possible for him to hide in plain sight.’
      • ‘Even now, watching this ballet, I have "eureka" moments when I discover another bit of meaning hidden in plain sight.’
      • ‘The enemy is in plain sight, caught in their cross hairs.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 card was hidden in plain view - not concealed under, inside or beneath anything - but that didn't seem to make it easy to find.’
  • plain and simple

    • informal Used to emphasize the statement preceding or following.

      ‘she was a genius, plain and simple’
      • ‘He is a songwriter - and his approach to his craft is as plain and simple as that statement.’
      • ‘At 44 years old, and as the most decorated female athlete of all time, she's a phenomenon, plain and simple.’
      • ‘These costs are the result of bad business, plain and simple; overspending on fringe players who did not play a significant role.’
      • ‘A ‘real’ hunter does not kill to watch things suffer - he kills for food, plain and simple.’
      • ‘Without them this show wouldn't have happened, plain and simple.’
      • ‘It's paper, plain and simple, and that will never change.’
      • ‘It's about Toronto taking control of the look of our city, 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.’
      • ‘‘These people are not nationalists, they are criminals plain and simple,’ he said.’
      • ‘Harsh though it may seem, in the end this is justice plain and simple.’
  • plain as day

    • informal Very clearly.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This is pure, one-man-band, Presidential propaganda, and we can all see it, as plain as day.’
      • ‘It's plain as day that you two were meant to be together.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Your contempt for anyone who disagrees with you is plain as day.’
      • ‘A simple assertion, plain as day, coming from someone who ought to know.’
      • ‘Yet many contemporaries worried that lawyers were merely complicating matters that ought to be as plain as day.’
      • ‘What's lacking though, is plain as day: the lyrics here are generally horrendous, but always unintentionally funny.’
      • ‘Maybe not to the other, but I can see it plain as day.’


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




Main definitions of plain in US English:

: plain1plain2



[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.’


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