Printable Version
Pronunciation: vayn-glo-ri Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass

Meaning: Outlandish vanity, ostentatious and/or unwarranted pride in achievements, undue exaltation of oneself.

Notes: Vainglory represents a step beyond vanity. We may be subtly vain, but vainglory is way beyond subtlety. Today's word comes with an adjective, vainglorious, and its noun, vaingloriousness, a virtual synonym of vainglory. The adverb is vaingloriously.

In Play: Vainglory is usually excess pride worn on your sleeve: "Most of the superrich indulge in the vainglory of thinking themselves smarter than everyone else." It may, however, be kept to oneself: "Rodney considered it pure vainglory to think his own likes and dislikes could matter at all to other people."

Word History: Today's Good Word is obviously a compound noun consisting of vain + glory. Vain was clipped from Old French vain, vein "worthless, invalid, conceited", inherited from Latin vanus "empty, fruitless, idle". Latin got its word from PIE ueno-, a suffixed variant of euê- "to lack, empty", source also of Sanskrit una- "insufficient, lacking", Armenian unain "empty", and Greek eunis "deprived of, lacking". Glory, again, came from Old French glorie (today gloire), passed down, again, from Latin gloria "fame, glory, renown", a word of mysterious origins. Some etymologists trace it back to a hypothetical gnoria "acknowledgement, fame", akin to Latin gnarus "known" and i-gnorare "to not know". The shift from N to L occurs nowhere else in IE languages, however convincing the semantic relationship. (Now for another round of e-applause to Rob Towart, for averting vainglory for all the Good Words he has contributed and moving on to recommend today's.)

Dr. Goodword,

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