Word Confusion: Vain vs Vane vs Vein

Posted June 19, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Revised as of 12 October 2017

Sometimes I feel like I’ll pop a vein with some of the word confusions I come across. Yeah, I know, it’s rather vain of me, but ya gotta know that my thoughts on word confusions in general don’t twist in the wind like the vanes of a weather vane.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Vain Vane Vein
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

“Woman in Front of a Mirror” by Mose Bianchi is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

“She’s so vain…”

“Rooster Weather Vane” courtesy of User:Corcoran and photographed by Arne Koehler under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license, via Wikimedia Commons.

“Oak Leaf Veins” is Dvortygirl’s own work under the GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 licenses, via Wikimedia Commons

Part of Grammar:
Adjective Noun
Plural: vanes
Verb, transitive

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: veins
Past tense or past participle: veined
Gerund or present participle: veining

Thinking very highly of yourself, your appearance

Useless effort

A broad blade that, with other blades, is attached to a wheel which spins by the efforts of wind or water, producing energy

A projecting surface which guides the motion of a projectile such as the feather on an arrow, a fin on a torpedo

[Medical] A thin tube found inside living beings that conveys blood

A rib running through a leaf or bract

A streak or stripe in a rock, tree, cheese, marble, granite

A distinctive quality, style, or tendency

A below-ground channel of water

Verb, transitive:
To supply or fill with veins

  • To furnish with veins

To mark with lines or streaks suggesting veins

To extend over or through in the manner of veins

He’s so vain.

Her efforts were in vain

You should not be taking God’s name in vain.

They waited in vain for a response.

Their flattery made him vain.

It was a vain attempt to tidy up.

I had vain hopes of finding work.

A weathervane or ceiling fan consists of such vanes.

Vane is another word for weathervane.

His clan uses blue and grey feathers for the vanes of their arrows.

The torpedo vanes had been streamlined.

Vanes are incorporated into turbine engines.

Blood courses through the veins of humans and animals.

There’s a lovely vein of cream streaking through that red marble.

Most of his work is in that vein of agony.

I love holding a leaf up to the sun to see the intricacy of its veins.

Didja hear about the vein of gold they found?

Verb, transitive:
Broad new highways vein the countryside.

Adjective: vainer, vainest, vainglorious, Adverb: vaingloriously, vainglory, vainly
Noun: vaingloriousness, vanity, vanities,
Adjective: vaned, vaneless, multivane Adjective: interveinal, veinal, veinier, veiniest, veinless, veinlike, veiny
Noun: veinlet
Verb, transitive: intervein
History of the Word:
Middle English, in the sense of devoid of real worth, via Old French from Latin vanus meaning empty, without substance. Late Middle English as a dialectical variant of the obsolete fane meaning banner and is of Germanic origin. Middle English from the Old French veine, which is from the Latin vena.

The earliest senses were blood vessel and small natural underground channel of water.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves? Also, please note that I try to be as accurate as I can, but mistakes happen or I miss something. Email me if you find errors, so I can fix them…and we’ll all benefit!

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

I Photoshopped three images to visualize the changing winds of fashion which are spread through the vanes of The Mill at Cassel Kasteel Meulen, which is Lion59’s own work under the GFDL or the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; the vanity of Heels by SimpleSkye, which is under the CC BY 2.0 license, via VisualHunt, which can result in a need for Recidiva Poststripping by Nini00 under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license. Ah, the vanity of [wo]man… The windmill and leg are via Wikimedia Commons.