vain, vein and vane - the difference

A vein is a blood vessel or a distinctive style.
Vain means self admiring or futile. (The term in vain means without success).
A vane is a stabilizing fin or blade.

Vein, Vain, and Vane

The words vein, vain, and vane sound identical, but their meanings are very different.


The noun vein has several meanings:

A blood vessel that carries blood from the capillaries towards the heart.

    veins                      varicose veins
A distinctive style or manner.

Mr Mellor continued in the same vein despite several reprimands.
A layer of ore or mineral between layers of rock.

       mineral vein running
            through rock       
The ribs that support an insect's wing.

  veins in an insect's wing       


The adjective vain means conceited or self admiring. Vain can also mean fruitless. In this meaning, it is often seen as in vain meaning without success or in a futile manner.


Petra is so vain. She spends half her time looking in the mirror.

I tried in vain to pull the boat ashore, but it was just too heavy.


The noun vane denotes a blade or a fin usually used to stabilize an object in the air or in water. It is most commonly seen in the word weathervane.


The stabilizing vane has come loose.

The steel casing protects the vane from damage in the event that the
vessel hits the rocks.

 Select the best answer to replace the missing word:

See also:

What are adjectives?
What are nouns?
What are verbs?
List of easily confused words

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