What does in vain mean? Read below for the definition.

Quick vocab quiz for the word in vain

First, before you read about the word in vain, try this quick vocab quiz:

in vain most nearly means

(A) weak
(B) loud
(C) ineffectual
(D) slim
(E) potent

Write your answer down, or just store it in that razor-sharp mind of yours. (If you can’t wait, the answer is below.)

Now let’s learn about the word in vain.

Part of Speech of in vain


Pronunciation in vain

Here’s how to pronounce in vain:

IPA: /ɪn vɛɪn/

Glossary-style: [ihn vayn]

Definition of in vain

in vain means: not having the desired effect; useless, fruitless (Ex: tried in vain to persuade his parents to let him drive the car).

Explain more about in vain, please

If something is done in vain, then it simply does not work. For example, you may try to lift yourself up by your bootstraps, but you would not be able to (since doing so is physically impossible).

More realistically, though, we use in vain to describe failed attempts to accomplish something. For example, we could say that someone’s attempts to get only As all throughout high school and college were in vain.

Example of in vain

Here’s the word in vain used in a sentence:

I argued in vain with the police officer who was citing me for jaywalking by telling him that my name was Jay and I was therefore legally permitted to jaywalk.

If you’ve read this far, you’re a great student and will learn vocabulary quickly. You may now check your answer.

Answer to the quick vocab quiz

[spoiler]The best answer is (C) ineffectual. Any questions? Please feel free to post them in the comments. We love comments. :)[/spoiler]

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