Definition of vanitas in English:


Syllabification: van·i·tas
Pronunciation: /ˈvanəˌtäs


A still-life painting of a 17th-century Dutch genre containing symbols of death or change as a reminder of their inevitability.
More example sentences
  • A classic vanitas, the painting reminds us that time and its consequences cannot be slowed.
  • Candles, half-empty vases and clocks suggest the passing of time, which, in traditional vanitas paintings, can refer to both the transience of life and the speed with which death can make its claim.
  • The human skull is familiar from the tradition of vanitas paintings where it serves to indicate the futility of human aspirations by stressing the ephemerality of human life.


Latin, literally 'vanity'.

Definition of vanitas in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day deictic
Pronunciation: ˈdeɪktɪk
denoting a word whose meaning depends on context...