from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Free from obstructions; open; clear.
  • adjective Obvious to the perception or mind; evident: synonym: apparent.
  • adjective Not elaborate or complicated; simple.
  • adjective Marked by little or no ornamentation or decoration.
  • adjective Straightforward; frank or candid.
  • adjective Not pretentious; unaffected.
  • adjective Lacking beauty or distinction.
  • adjective Not mixed with other substances; pure.
  • adjective Common in rank or station; average; ordinary.
  • adjective Not dyed, twilled, or patterned.
  • adjective Sheer; utter; unqualified.
  • adjective Archaic Having no visible elevation or depression; flat; level.
  • noun An extensive, level, usually treeless area of land.
  • noun A broad level expanse, as a part of the sea floor or a lunar mare.
  • noun Something free of ornamentation or extraneous matter.
  • adverb Clearly; simply.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To make plain, level, or even; smooth; clear.
  • To make plain or clear; explain.
  • Flat; level: smooth; even; free from elevations and depressions: as, a plain surface or country.
  • Open; unobstructed by intervening barriers or defenses.
  • Easy; free from intricacies or difficulties: as, plain exercises in shorthand.
  • Undisguised; frank; sincere; unreserved.
  • Clear; evident; manifest; easily perceived or understood: as, to make one's meaning plain; it was plain he was offended.
  • Unqualified: undisguised; unmistakable; sheer; downright; absolute.
  • Without a figured pattern; unornamented with decorative patterns or designs; also, when applied to fabrics, untwilled or uncolored: as. plain black cloth; plain muslin.
  • Void of ornament or bright color; without embellishment; simple; unadorned.
  • Without beauty; homely: as, she is plain, but clever.
  • Artless; simple; unlearned; without artifice or affectation; unsophisticated.
  • Not highly seasoned; not rich; not luxuriously dressed: as, a plain diet.
  • Incomplex; simple.
  • In card-playing, not trumps; lay: as, a plain card; a plain suit.
  • Whole-colored; not variegated: as, plain white eggs.
  • Smooth; unstriate, as muscular fiber.
  • Embroidery in the same color as the ground.
  • Clear, Evident, etc. (see manifest), distinct, patent, unmistakable, unequivocal, unambiguous, explicit, intelligible.
  • Unvarnished, unem-bellished.
  • noun An extent of level, or nearly level, land; a region not noticeably diversified with mountains, hills, or valleys.
  • noun A field; especially, a field of battle.
  • noun An open space surrounded by houses: as, St. Mary's Plain; the Theater Plain, in Norwich.
  • In old music, said of certain graces or embellishments, like the beat, backfall, etc., when without extension by a shake: opposed to shaked. Also called smooth.
  • In a plain manner; plainly; clearly; openly; frankly; bluntly.
  • To lament; wail; mourn.
  • To whinny: said of a horse.
  • To lament; bewail; bemoan; mourn over.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb rare To plane or level; to make plain or even on the surface.
  • transitive verb To make plain or manifest; to explain.
  • adjective Without elevations or depressions; flat; level; smooth; even. See plane.
  • adjective Open; clear; unencumbered; equal; fair.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin plānus; see pelə- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Anglo-Norman plainer, pleiner, variant of Anglo-Norman and Old French pleindre, plaindre, from Latin plangere, present active infinitive of plangō.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French plain, from Latin plānum ("level ground, a plain"), neuter substantive from plānus ("level, even, flat").

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Anglo-Norman pleyn, playn, Middle French plain, plein, from Latin plānus ("flat, even, level, plain").


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  • I do for a plain one, therefore I like the _plain ones best_, and I hope that our "good brother Burch's" prophecy, that "the days of 'fancy locomotives' will return," will never be fulfilled until after I go out of the business.

    Scientific American Supplement, No. 358, November 11, 1882 Various

  • They live what they call plain lives, of course, as you well know, not using electricity.

    CNN Transcript Feb 21, 2006 2006

  • WOODRUFF: And just as important, he is hoping to win over you, the voters in the United States, with what he calls plain-spoken words about his priorities.

    CNN Transcript - Special Event: President Bush Addresses Congress and the Democrats Respond - February 27, 2001 2001

  • Throughout the episode, however, Robison expressed difficulty understanding why he should be penalized for preaching what he called the plain message of the Bible: "I did not attack an individual or any group, but rather a life-style condemned by the Bible."

    Prime Time Preachers: The Rising Power of Televangelism; with an Introduction by T George Harris 1981

  • Possibly, you don't give other people credit for unselfish motives; you are too suspicious; and what you call plain talk may seem impertinence to others -- don't you think?

    'Firebrand' Trevison Charles Alden Seltzer 1908

  • Hence it is necessary for us to realise that these rude and simple worshippers, of all the different forms of worship, really would be bewildered by the ritual dances and elaborate ceremonial antics of John Bull, as by the superstitious forms and almost supernatural incantations of most of what we call plain English.

    The New Jerusalem 1905

  • Homer's heaven was an elysium which he describes as a plain at the end of the earth or beneath, with no snow nor rainfall, and the sun never goes down, and Rhadamanthus, the justest of men, rules.

    New Tabernacle Sermons 1867

  • It's what you call plain cooking; and bless us all, dinner in the middle of the day, and the children at table.

    Phoebe, Junior 1862

  • But, Raoul, let us come down to what I call plain reason.

    Vautrin Honor�� de Balzac 1824

  • That is what I call plain speaking on the part of the old Roman, Mr. Fairford.

    Redgauntlet Walter Scott 1801


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