Vain, Vein, or Vane?

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Difference between "Vain," "Vein," and "Vane"?

"Vain," "vein," and "vane" are easy to confuse because they sound identical (i.e., they are perfect homonyms). However, their meanings are very different.
  • "Vein" is a blood vessel or a distinctive style. For example:
    • Your leg veins are working well. correct tick
    • Well done! Continue in the same vein. correct tick
  • "Vain" means "self admiring" or "futile."
    • You have a lot of mirrors. You're so vain! correct tick
    • I tried in vain to convince her to get back on the horse. correct tick
    • (The term "in vain" means "without success.")
  • "Vane" is a stabilizing fin or blade. For example:
    • The weather vane is stuck. correct tick
vain, vein, or vane?

More about "Vein," "Vain," and "Vane"

"Vein," "vain," and "vane" are homophone homonyms because they sound the same. They are not homograph homophones because they have different spellings.


The noun "vein" has four main meanings:

(1) A blood vessel that carries blood from the capillaries towards the heart.

varicose veins

(2) A distinctive style or manner.
  • Mr. Mellor continued in the same vein despite several reprimands. correct tick
(3) A layer of ore or mineral between layers of rock.

mineral vein running

(4) 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."

Example sentences with "vain":
  • Petra is so vain. She spends half her time looking in the mirror. correct tick
  • I tried in vain to pull the boat ashore, but it was just too heavy. correct tick


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.

Example sentences with "vane":
  • The stabilizing vane has come loose. correct tick
  • The steel casing protects the vane from damage in the event that the vessel hits the rocks. correct tick


Common Terms with the Words "Vain," "Vein," and "Vane"

The word "vain" (meaning "futile" or "producing no result") is often seen in the following terms:
  • try in vain
  • vain attempt
  • do something in vain
  • vain hope
"Vain" (meaning "self-admiring") is often seen in the following terms:
  • vain person
  • You're so vain.
The word "vein" (meaning "the tubes forming part of the blood circulation system") is often seen in the following terms:
  • vein blockage
  • vein bruise
  • vein burst
  • vein collapse
  • vein cream
  • vein graft
  • vein infection
  • vein in leg
  • vein removal
  • vein thrombosis
Common terms with the word "vane":
  • weathervane

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