vain, vane, vein

The words vain, vane, vein sound the same but have different meanings and spellings. Why do vain, vane, vein sound the same even though they are completely different words?

The answer is simple: vain, vane, vein are homophones of the English language.

  1. :: adjective

    Not yielding the desired outcome; fruitless: a vain attempt.

  2. :: adjective

    Lacking substance or worth: vain talk.

  3. :: adjective

    Excessively proud of one's appearance or accomplishments; conceited.

  4. :: adjective

    Archaic Foolish.

  1. :: noun

    A weathervane.

  2. :: noun

    Any of several usually relatively thin, rigid, flat, or sometimes curved surfaces radially mounted along an axis, as a blade in a turbine or a sail on a windmill, that is turned by or used to turn a fluid.

  3. :: noun

    The flattened, weblike part of a feather, consisting of a series of barbs on either side of the shaft.

  4. :: noun

    The movable target on a leveling rod.

  1. :: noun

    Anatomy Any of the membranous tubes that form a branching system and carry blood to the heart.

  2. :: noun

    A blood vessel.

  3. :: noun

    Botany One of the vascular bundles or ribs that form the branching framework of conducting and supporting tissues in a leaf or other expanded plant organ. Also called nervure.

  4. :: noun

    Zoology One of the horny ribs that stiffen and support the wing of an insect. Also called nervure.

Definitions from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition and Wordnik.

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About Homophones

Homophones (literally "same sound") are usually defined as words that share the same pronunciation, regardless of how they are spelled.

If they are spelled the same then they are also homographs (and homonyms); if they are spelled differently then they are also heterographs (literally "different writing").