Definition of vanity in US English:


nounPlural vanities

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

    ‘the vanity of human wishes’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.

    • ‘Upon examining the rest of the drawers, she realized it was more of a vanity than a desk.’
    • ‘Her oak vanity had several different types of make-up and hair supplies resting on it.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Between the two beds was a creamy beige couch, and across from that, a wash basin, vanity, and wardrobe.’
    • ‘Small and rectangular, the chamber housed a mahogany bed, chest of drawers, washbasin and vanity.’
    • ‘There was a small vanity with a stool in front of it with an assortment of perfumes and make up covering the top.’
    • ‘The room was like some sort of ritzy hotel, complete with a dresser, a vanity, and a four-poster bed.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘As Delia admires herself in her vanity table mirror, Cary decides to make a quiet escape.’
    • ‘A bar stool is used as a chair for the high vanity.’
    • ‘Paige held up her hands defensively and walked over to Lee's vanity table.’
    • ‘Looking from her view on the bed across the way was a pretty oak vanity with a good size mirror.’
    • ‘My bedroom has my bed and my vanity and my bathroom connected to it.’
    • ‘There was a dresser, a small television, and a vanity.’
    • ‘Instead of paint, try a colored stain to revive wood cabinets or a vanity.’
    • ‘She rose from her stool at her vanity and hugged Michelle.’
    • ‘The larger room also has a desk which could double as a vanity unit.’
    1. 3.1US A bathroom unit consisting of a washbasin typically set into a counter with a cabinet beneath.
      • ‘There's lovely soap on the bathroom vanity so lather up and then come see me for a snack.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Leaving the toilet in place, the couple introduced an oversized marble shower, a built-in tub, and separate vanities and closets.’
      • ‘When they got to the bathroom, he set her down on the stool by the vanity.’
      • ‘Installing a new bathroom vanity is an easy way to spruce up the look of a bathroom and provide improved storage space.’
      • ‘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 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.’
      • ‘A maintenance worker was coming to fix the vanity in her bathroom and she wanted to be there when he or she arrived.’
      • ‘One area features a cherry vanity with ample drawers and a ceramic sink, while the other incorporates a pedestal sink flanked by cabinets.’
      • ‘The designers check measurements for tubs, vanities, and built-in cabinets, including kitchen and closets.’
      • ‘Bathroom vanities are often the centerpiece of a bathroom remodeling or decorating project.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This worked so well that I added a pair of similar racks inside the doors of my bathroom vanity.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Instead of double vanities and a separate shower, the sink is one long trough and the shower is exposed.’
      • ‘Open up the bathroom vanity or kitchen cabinet, and shine your light on the back wall.’
      • ‘Radiant-heated flagstones were laid adjacent to the bath, and there's walnut flooring in front of the vanities.’
      • ‘The bathroom vanity should always be the first piece of bathroom furniture purchased.’


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