From Biology-Online Dictionary | Biology-Online Dictionary


Origin: OE. Vanite, vanite, L. Vanitas, fr. Vanus empty, vain. See Vain.

1. The quality or state of being vain; want of substance to satisfy desire; emptiness; unsubstantialness; unrealness; falsity. Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. (Eccl. I. 2) Here I may well show the vanity of that which is reported in the story of Walsingham. (Sir J. Davies)

2. An inflation of mind upon slight grounds; empty pride inspired by an overweening conceit of one's personal attainments or decorations; an excessive desire for notice or approval; pride; ostentation; conceit. The exquisitely sensitive vanity of Garrick was galled. (Macaulay)

3. That which is vain; anything empty, visionary, unreal, or unsubstantial; fruitless desire or effort; trifling labour productive of no good; empty pleasure; vain pursuit; idle show; unsubstantial enjoyment. Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher. (Eccl. I. 2) Vanity possesseth many who are desirous to know the certainty of things to come. (Sir P. Sidney) [Sin] with vanity had filled the works of men. (milton) Think not, when woman's transient breath is fled, That all her vanities at once are dead; Succeeding vanities she still regards. (pope)

4. One of the established characters in the old moralities and puppet shows. See Morality. You . . . Take vanity the puppet's part. (Shak)

Synonym: Egotism, pride, emptiness, worthlessness, self-sufficiency. See Egotism, and Pride.