There are 2 definitions of plain in English:


Syllabification: plain
Pronunciation: /plān


  • 1Not decorated or elaborate; simple or ordinary in character: good plain food everyone dined at a plain wooden table
    More example sentences
    • She was surrounded by a simple, plain room with a wooden wardrobe and desk.
    • Their rich, sumptuous food contrasted with the simple and plain food prepared by the ordinary people of Nepal.
    • I wanted to photograph the United States in its most basic, plain, everyday sense.
    simple, ordinary, unadorned, unembellished, unornamented, unostentatious, unfussy, basic, modest, unsophisticated, without frills, homespun; restrained, unshowy, unflashy, muted; everyday, workaday
  • 1.1Without a pattern; in only one color: a plain fabric
    More example sentences
    • For so long, it's been black or linen in plain colours, and suddenly there's been an explosion of colour which is really inspiring people.
    • If you want to distract attention from your top half, go for a plain colour and style on top and a sexier bottom with side ties or lots of flamboyant detail.
    • Ascot rules dictate that they should be of a plain colour, and innocent of sponsors' logos.
  • 1.2Bearing no indication as to source, contents, or affiliation: donations can be put in a plain envelope
    More example sentences
    • The envelope was a plain white one with no indication who it was from.
    • The letters arrived in plain envelopes with a Kelowna return address.
    • These envelopes, always plain white and small, are never opened until the two parties are far apart.
  • 1.3(Of a person) having no pretensions; not remarkable or special: a plain, honest man with no nonsense about him
    More example sentences
    • On the outside he was a plain guy, quite normal and polite, but once you got to know him, opinions started to take a turn for the worse.
    • Meanwhile, plain folks toss around the word with abandon.
    • And so the politicians, the soldiers, the businessmen, and the plain folk decided it was best to give up their guns.
  • 1.4 [attributive] (Of a person) without a special title or status: for years he was just plain Bill
    More example sentences
    • She was just plain Suzy, driving her sleeping family home after a day out at the coast.
    • For the most part, she just called him plain Jack.
    • They would wait until 1804 before electing plain Samuel as trustee.
  • 4 [attributive] Sheer; simple (used for emphasis): the main problem is just plain exhaustion
    More example sentences
    • Many died from malnutrition, fighting, or just plain exhaustion before even getting to the construction sites.
    • Minimizing the number of systems that engineers deal with is also key, so that making GM products is cheaper and just plain simpler.
    • Plus, it's just plain exhausting trying to say productive, generous, and constructive things all the time.
    sheer, pure, downright, out-and-out, unmitigated
  • 5(Of a knitting stitch) made using a knit rather than a purl stitch.
    More example sentences
    • She offered a more varied needlework curriculum of plain work, marking, openwork, and embroidery along with reading and writing.
    • When working the 101st row, knit the margin, also 9 stripes of the pattern, then knit 30 plain stitches, and resume the pattern to the end.


[as submodifier] informal Back to top  


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as plain as the nose on one's face

informal Very obvious.
More example sentences
  • He explained why he chose him: ‘That was a decision I felt had to be made as plain as the nose on my face - and that's fairly apparent.’
  • What's the point of saying something that is as plain as the nose on your face?
  • After eliminating the impossibilities, the master of deduction explained, he had been left with one simple irrevocable conclusion, as plain as the nose on one's face.

plain and simple

informal Used to emphasize the statement preceding or following: she was a genius, plain and simple
More example sentences
  • He is a songwriter - and his approach to his craft is as plain and simple as that statement.
  • A ‘real’ hunter does not kill to watch things suffer - he kills for food, plain and simple.
  • Without them this show wouldn't have happened, plain and simple.

plain as day

informal Very clearly.
More example sentences
  • Your contempt for anyone who disagrees with you is plain as day.
  • Yet many contemporaries worried that lawyers were merely complicating matters that ought to be as plain as day.
  • This is pure, one-man-band, Presidential propaganda, and we can all see it, as plain as day.



More example sentences
  • In the weaker poems, the effect is wishful and mechanical, but there are many moments of startling illumination, and these are made more powerful by the seeming plainness and directness of his manner.
  • And yet that tradition's peculiar virtues - understatement, plainness, a willingness to explain one's ideas - create the effects here which will surprise Americans most.
  • As in some of the palazzi of the High Renaissance, the plainness and heaviness of the ground floor, whose arches were open to the elements until 1862, makes a marked and deliberate contrast to the sculptural richness above.


Middle English: from Old French plain, from Latin planus, from a base meaning 'flat'.

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Word of the day kerf
Pronunciation: kərf
a slit made by cutting with a saw

There are 2 definitions of plain in English:


Syllabification: plain
Pronunciation: /


[no object] archaic


Middle English: from Old French plaindre, from Latin plangere 'to lament'.

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