in vain

in vain
also, all in vain

Meaning | Synonyms

  • without success
  • unsuccessfully
  • uselessly
  • hopelessly
  • for nothing
  • with little hope
  • no to avail
  • fruitlessly
  • to no purpose
  • profitless

Example sentences

  1. It seems as if the merger will go through and all our hard work has been in vain.
  2. Your protests are all in vain. He will get the promotion as he is the boss’s son.
  3. All of my studying was in vain. The professor asked questions that were not in the material.
  4. Could you please stop using my name in vain before I make a scene.
  5. Worshiping the Lord is never in vain. It gives the fruit for sure – sooner or later.
  6. In the end, the captain’s hard work was all in vain by the loss of the match.
  7. The struggle of Wright brother, ultimately wasn’t in vain with a successful flight of their airplane.
  8. I will not let my efforts go in vain. And I will keep trying until I win.
  9. From the day I lost my dog, I am trying to find it but all in vain.


The phrase has been used since the 1300s. The original phrase was translated from the Latin “in vanum” meaning to no effect.

There are examples of the phrase being used in the Bible. In these cases, the word vain meant empty. When the word “in” is added to the front it means that something takes on an empty or negative purpose.

“to take God’s name in vain” (Exodus 20:7; Deuteronomy 5:11)

People often use it to describe others using their name in an improper manner.

The word vain also has a different meaning. It is used to describe somebody who is inordinately proud of their outward appearance. It is often a source of confusion as the first phrase has nothing to do with vanity.


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Idiom of the Day

axe to grind

Meaning: have a private or selfish reason for doing something

Example: He should not become the chairman of the committee as he has too many axes of his own to grind. Read on


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