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

put your foot in it

Meaning: say something (by mistake) that upsets, humiliates, or embarrasses someone

Example: Carla put her foot right in it when she congratulated her neighbour on being pregnant. It turns out she's not expecting but had just put on weight. Read on


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