Vain, Vein, or Vane?

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

homeconfused wordsVain, Vein, or Vane?
the quick answer

The Quick Answer

A vein is a blood vessel or a distinctive style.

Vain means self admiring or futile. (The term in vain (as in to try 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.

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

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.


A Quick Test

teachers note

A Note from Teacher

Common Terms with Vain

The word vain (meaning futile or producing no result) is often seen in the following terms:
  • To try in vain
  • A vain attempt
  • To do something in vain
  • A vain hope
Vain (meaning self-admiring) is often seen in the following terms:
  • A vain person
  • You're so vain.

Common Terms with Vein

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

Help Us To Improve English Grammar Lessons
  • Do you disagree with something on this page?
  • Did you spot a typo?
Please tell us using this form.
Do you know your English idioms? idioms test

Take Our Test.

search icon

Search our idioms database. (We have 10,000+ idioms!)