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.