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Dictionary Meaning and Definition on 'Vanity'

Vanity Meaning and Definition from WordNet (r) 2.0
    vanity n
  1. feelings of excessive pride [syn: amour propre, conceit, self-love]
  2. the quality of being valueless or futile; "he rejected the vanities of the world" [syn: emptiness]
  3. the trait of being vain and conceited [syn: conceit]
  4. low table with mirror or mirrors where one sits while dressing or applying makeup [syn: dressing table, dresser, toilet table]
Vanity Meaning and Definition from Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)
    Vanity \Van"i*ty\, n.; pl. Vanities. [OE. vanite, vanit['e], 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 labor 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, n., 5. You . . . take vanity the puppet's part. --Shak. Syn: Egotism; pride; emptiness; worthlessness; self-sufficiency. See Egotism, and Pride.
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Wikipedia Meaning and Definition on 'Vanity'

In conventional parlance, vanity is the excessive belief in one's own abilities or attractiveness to others. Prior to the 14th century it did not have such narcissistic undertones, and merely meant futility.

In many religions vanity, in its modern sense, is considered a form of self-idolatry, in which one rejects God for the sake of one's own image, and thereby becomes divorced from the graces of God. The stories of Lucifer, Narcissus (who gave us the term narcissism) and others attend to a pernicious aspect of vanity. Philosophically speaking, vanity may refer to a broader sense of egoism and pride. Friedrich Nietzsche wrote that "vanity is the fear of appearing original: it is thus a lack of pride, but not necessarily a lack of originality."

In Christian teachings vanity is considered an example of pride, one of the seven deadly sins. This list evolved from an earlier list of eight sins, which included vainglory as a sin independent of pride.

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'Vanity' in famous quotation sentence

* There's a little vanity chair that Charlie gave me the first Christmas we knew each other. I'll not be parting with that, nor our bed-the four-poster-I'll be needing that to die in. - Helen Hayes

* It must require an inordinate share of vanity and presumption, too, after enjoying so much that is good and beautiful on earth, to ask the Lord for immortality in addition to all. - Heinrich Heine

* Wounded vanity knows when it is mortally hurt and limps off the field, piteous, all disguises thrown away. But pride carries its banner to the last and fast as it is driven from one field unfurls it in another, never admitting that there is a shade less honor in the second field than in the first, or in the third than in the second. - Helen Hunt Jackson

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