Definition of vanity in US English:



  • 1Excessive pride in or admiration of one's own appearance or achievements.

    ‘it flattered his vanity to think I was in love with him’
    ‘the personal vanities and ambitions of politicians’
    • ‘He only ever sat for the occasional portrait and despised the excesses and vanities of his day.’
    • ‘How can we get free of the petty tyrannies of our own female vanity?’
    • ‘His greatest weakness may well be his seemingly fathomless personal vanity.’
    • ‘Greed, envy, hatred, selfishness, vanity, and arrogance are all negative traits which must be totally eliminated.’
    • ‘"Nowadays men are also indulging their vanity.’
    • ‘But his vanity, pettiness and egocentrism exasperated even his closest friends.’
    • ‘While the Italians are perfectly comfortable with male vanity, the British are not.’
    • ‘Beware of arrogance and vanity when you bask in your glory.’
    • ‘My vanity and pride was slightly bruised, though, and that serves me right.’
    • ‘Nobody survives lying to me and betraying me just for a good headline and to feed her own vanity!’
    • ‘He was equally candid about dabbling in hard drugs, but said that his vanity and ambition prevented him from developing a full-blown heroin addiction.’
    • ‘One simply did not undertake surgical procedures for vanity's sake, he was told upon his dismissal.’
    • ‘Talking to him will only flatter his vanity.’
    • ‘He had no concern for his appearance; no personal vanity.’
    • ‘This is not, however, a simple tale of vanity or excessive consumption.’
    • ‘I'm glad now that I had a strict Jesuit education and upbringing, including all the nagging neuroses about self-control and vanity.’
    • ‘But human vanity being what it is, such logic seldom prevails.’
    • ‘Once their pride and vanity has been wounded it takes a long time to recover.’
    • ‘So many members thanked and praised me, and it satisfied my vanity.’
    • ‘A heart full of false pride, vanity and arrogance has no room for wisdom, so it will remain lost in the darkness.’
    conceit, conceitedness, self-conceit, narcissism, self-love, self-admiration, self-regard, self-absorption, self-obsession, self-centredness, egotism, egoism, egocentrism, egomania
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    1. 1.1as modifier Denoting a person or company that publishes works at the author's expense.
      ‘a vanity press’
      • ‘Personally I can't get very excited about this controversy over whether PublishAmerica is a mainstream or vanity firm or something in between.’
      • ‘So pity the poor book reviewer, her desk piled high with vanity press or self-published dross.’
      • ‘The real books were worth buying and reading, the self-published were from vanity presses.’
      • ‘A vanity press is probably the only place to go if you want to write about your 28 uneventful years as a municipal clerk in Ohio.’
      • ‘Backroom describes itself as essentially a vanity press, only capable of publishing work with the benefit of private backing.’
      • ‘Research on the company's website revealed this firm to be a self-publishing, or vanity press.’
      • ‘Indeed, critical readers might suspect that the vanity press outlet was the only way these articles could get into print.’
      • ‘He lands a job editing manuscripts at a vanity publisher.’
      • ‘Even vanity publishing smacks of a certain - albeit desperate - nobility of soul.’
      • ‘Every now and then, a vanity press mogul makes a go of his venture.’
      • ‘It's critical, in-depth and insightful, rather than just vanity publishing.’
      • ‘I've just come across a vanity publishing firm called Blogbinders, which turns blog content into bound volumes.’
      • ‘Then there is the usual plethora of niche presses, ranging from outright vanity endeavours to highly respectable small publishers.’
  • 2The quality of being worthless or futile.

    ‘the vanity of human wishes’
    • ‘It is when the pilgrim throws away the rose-colored glasses of illusion and sees the vanity of all worldly preoccupation that he breaks free of their bondage.’
    • ‘The eroded head of a figure on a tombstone suggests the vanity of attempts to stem the ravages of time.’
    • ‘They might consider the bounty of the earth, in one mood, or the vanity of human wishes and desires in another.’
    • ‘He composed another poem on the vanity of worldliness.’
    • ‘He was reflecting, perhaps, on the vanity of human passions.’
    futility, uselessness, pointlessness, worthlessness, purposelessness, idleness, fruitlessness, profitlessness
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  • 3North American A dressing table.

    • ‘She pictured it the way she remembered it: light purple walls with a dark purple carpet, white wicker furniture and a small vanity in the corner.’
    • ‘Looking from her view on the bed across the way was a pretty oak vanity with a good size mirror.’
    • ‘As Delia admires herself in her vanity table mirror, Cary decides to make a quiet escape.’
    • ‘There was a dresser, a small television, and a vanity.’
    • ‘The room was like some sort of ritzy hotel, complete with a dresser, a vanity, and a four-poster bed.’
    • ‘A carved vanity, made of some kind of almost white wood, was in a corner, and a large wardrobe of the same wood and design stood against another wall.’
    • ‘The larger room also has a desk which could double as a vanity unit.’
    • ‘Instead of paint, try a colored stain to revive wood cabinets or a vanity.’
    • ‘My bedroom has my bed and my vanity and my bathroom connected to it.’
    • ‘A bar stool is used as a chair for the high vanity.’
    • ‘Her oak vanity had several different types of make-up and hair supplies resting on it.’
    • ‘She rose from her stool at her vanity and hugged Michelle.’
    • ‘Between the two beds was a creamy beige couch, and across from that, a wash basin, vanity, and wardrobe.’
    • ‘There was a small vanity with a stool in front of it with an assortment of perfumes and make up covering the top.’
    • ‘Upon examining the rest of the drawers, she realized it was more of a vanity than a desk.’
    • ‘Paige held up her hands defensively and walked over to Lee's vanity table.’
    • ‘Small and rectangular, the chamber housed a mahogany bed, chest of drawers, washbasin and vanity.’
    1. 3.1US A bathroom unit consisting of a washbasin typically set into a counter with a cabinet beneath.
      • ‘It arrived nearly complete, down to the lightweight composite concrete countertops, slate tile backsplash, birch veneer built-in cabinetry, bathroom vanities, bamboo floor, and paint.’
      • ‘Leaving the toilet in place, the couple introduced an oversized marble shower, a built-in tub, and separate vanities and closets.’
      • ‘Radiant-heated flagstones were laid adjacent to the bath, and there's walnut flooring in front of the vanities.’
      • ‘This worked so well that I added a pair of similar racks inside the doors of my bathroom vanity.’
      • ‘The bathroom vanity should always be the first piece of bathroom furniture purchased.’
      • ‘Plenty of storage is provided beneath the vanity, and small niches for bath essentials are built into the shower wall to eliminate the need for caddies.’
      • ‘In the early days of locker room design, owners perceived an economy to clustering all the plumbing, meaning that showers, vanities and toilets were all in one part of the locker room.’
      • ‘The designers check measurements for tubs, vanities, and built-in cabinets, including kitchen and closets.’
      • ‘The master suite is a world unto itself with his-and-her closets, twin vanities, two-person steam shower with multiple jets, and a deep soaking tub.’
      • ‘One area features a cherry vanity with ample drawers and a ceramic sink, while the other incorporates a pedestal sink flanked by cabinets.’
      • ‘Now this old-style board is used to add texture to a new knee wall that provides privacy without restricting light between the vanity and toilet.’
      • ‘The main-floor master retreat includes a walk-in closet and a spacious bathroom with a spa tub, separate shower, and side-by-side vanities designed to look like custom furniture.’
      • ‘Along one wall to the left of the tub, his-and-her vanities and two built-in storage towers fronted with glass doors add to the feeling of understated luxury.’
      • ‘Instead of double vanities and a separate shower, the sink is one long trough and the shower is exposed.’
      • ‘A maintenance worker was coming to fix the vanity in her bathroom and she wanted to be there when he or she arrived.’
      • ‘Installing a new bathroom vanity is an easy way to spruce up the look of a bathroom and provide improved storage space.’
      • ‘Open up the bathroom vanity or kitchen cabinet, and shine your light on the back wall.’
      • ‘When they got to the bathroom, he set her down on the stool by the vanity.’
      • ‘There's lovely soap on the bathroom vanity so lather up and then come see me for a snack.’
      • ‘Bathroom vanities are often the centerpiece of a bathroom remodeling or decorating project.’


Middle English: from Old French vanite, from Latin vanitas, from vanus ‘empty’ (see vain).