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Frank J. Wilstach, comp.  A Dictionary of Similes.  1916.
 
Vain
 
  Vain as a peacock.
            —Anonymous
  1
  Vain as chasing a bug in the dark.
            —Anonymous
  2
  Vain as the leaf upon the stream.
            —Anonymous
  3
  Vain as the promises of a patent medicine advertisement.
            —Anonymous
  4
  Vain as to water the plant when the root is dead.
            —Anonymous
  5
  Vain as a rattle in a baby’s clutch.
            —Henry B. Binns
  6
  Vain as the passing gale.
            —Charlotte Brontë
  7
                Vain
As for a brook to cope with ocean’s flood.
            —Lord Byron
  8
  As organ plaiers, vnlesse some body blowe vnto them the windie bellowes, do make no sound at all: Euen so, vaine men, vnless they be pricked forward, with commendations and praises of others, haue neuer any minde, or purpose to lend themselves to any good action.
            —Anthonie Fletcher (Certain Very Proper and Profitable Similes, 1595)
  9
  Vain as Niobe.
            —Foundling Hospital for Wit, 1743
  10
  Vain as the sick man’s vow, or young man’s sigh.
            —Walter Harte
  11
Vain as the summer’s glowing spoils
Flung o’er an early bier.
            —Thomas Kibble Hervey
  12
            Vain your feeble cry,
As the babe’s wailings to the thundering sky.
            —Oliver Wendell Holmes
  13
  Vain as a sick man’s dream.
            —Horace
  14
            Vain as swords
Against the enchased crocodiles.
            —John Keats
  15
Vain … as to attempt to erase what
Time has written with the Judgment Blood.
            —George Meredith
  16
  Vain and unprofitable, as is the sunshine to a dead man’s eyes.
            —Henry Hart Milman
  17
  Vain as to strike an axe on a rock.
            —Osmanli Proverb
  18
Vain as a leaf from a tree,
  As a fading day,
As veriest vanity,
  As the froth and the spray
Of the hollow-billowed sea,
As what was and shall not be,
  As what is and passes away.
            —Christina Gabriel Rossetti
  19
  Vain as an idiot’s dream.
            —Christopher Smart
  20
  Vain as to count the April drops of rain.
            —Tobias Smollett
  21
  Vain as a dead man’s vision.
            —Algernon Charles Swinburne
  22
  Words as vain as wind.
            —Frederick Tennyson
  23
  Vain as a girl.
            —William Makepeace Thackeray
  24
  Troubles of this world are vain as billows in a tossing sea.
            —William Wordsworth
  25
  Vain as a Frenchman newly returned from a campaign.
            —William Wycherley
  26
  Vain as a gaudy-minded man.
            —Edward Young
  27
 
 
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