Ask Difference

Plain vs. Plane — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on October 16, 2023
Plain refers to something clear, simple, or a flat area of land, while plane is either a tool for smoothing wood, a flat surface, or an aircraft.
Plain vs. Plane

Difference Between Plain and Plane

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Key Differences

"Plain" can refer to an area of flat, level land, usually with few trees, distinct from "plane," which in one of its meanings refers to a flat surface, level or not, especially in geometry. When "plane" is used in the context of an aircraft, it denotes a whole different category, unrelated to any meaning of "plain."
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 16, 2023
In another context, "plain" can refer to something clear or understandable, or lacking any embellishments or decorations; it's used to describe simplicity and clarity. On the other hand, "plane" can refer to a carpenter’s tool for smoothing or flattening wood, a concept entirely different from any definition of "plain."
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 16, 2023
"Plain" also has a use in describing something ordinary or not special, emphasizing the lack of features that would make it interesting or extraordinary, unlike "plane," which doesn't have a meaning associated with ordinariness or simplicity, but rather connects with flatness, levelness, or aviation.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 16, 2023
In terms of language usage, "plain" can sometimes be used in a subjective manner to imply something is unattractive or too simple, like plain food or plain clothing. In contrast, "plane" is a more objective term, referring specifically to either a level surface, a tool, or an aircraft, without subjective connotations.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 16, 2023
When people talk about "plain" in the context of sight, it's usually about visibility or clarity, as in 'plain view' or 'plain sight,' meaning easily seen or understood. "Plane," however, takes a different turn in perspective, as it might relate to a dimension of existence or thought in metaphysical discussions, like 'astral plane' or 'physical plane.'
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Oct 16, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Meaning

Clear/simple; flat land
Carpenter's tool; flat surface; aircraft
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Part of Speech

Adjective/noun
Noun
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Contextual Use

Simplicity, clarity, or ordinariness
Flatness, smoothing, aviation, or metaphysical dimensions
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Subjectivity

Can be subjective (e.g., unattractive, too simple)
Generally objective
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Associations

Visibility, openness
Levelness, travel, craftsmanship
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Compare with Definitions

Plain

Not decorated or elaborate; simple or basic in character.
He wore a plain white shirt.
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Plane

A tool with an adjustable blade for smoothing or shaping wood.
He used a plane to smooth the tabletop.
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Plain

Flat, level land with few or no trees.
They crossed the plain in covered wagons.
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Plane

A level of existence, thought, or development.
Meditation can help you access a higher spiritual plane.
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Plain

Unadorned or unembellished; straightforward.
She preferred a plain style of writing.
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Plane

(Mathematics) A surface containing all the straight lines that connect any two points on it.
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Plain

In geography, a plain is a flat expanse of land that generally does not change much in elevation, and are primarily treeless. Plains occur as lowlands along valleys or at the base of mountains, as coastal plains, and as plateaus or uplands.In a valley, a plain is enclosed on two sides, but in other cases a plain may be delineated by a complete or partial ring of hills, by mountains, or by cliffs.
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Plane

A flat or level surface.
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Plain

Not decorated or elaborate; simple or basic in character
Everyone dined at a plain wooden table
Good plain food
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Plane

A level of development, existence, or achievement
Scholarship on a high plane.
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Plain

Having no pretensions; not remarkable or special
A plain, honest man with no nonsense about him
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Plane

An airplane or hydroplane.
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Plain

Easy to perceive or understand; clear
The advantages were plain to see
It was plain that something was wrong
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Plane

A supporting surface of an airplane; an airfoil or wing.
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Plain

(of a person) not beautiful or attractive
A plain, round-faced woman
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Plane

A carpenter's tool with an adjustable blade for smoothing and leveling wood.
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Plain

Sheer; simple (used for emphasis)
The main problem is just plain exhaustion
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Plane

A trowel-shaped tool for smoothing the surface of clay, sand, or plaster in a mold.
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Plain

Denoting or relating to a type of knitting stitch produced by putting the needle through the front of each stitch from left to right.
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Plane

The plane tree.
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Plain

Used for emphasis
Perhaps the youth was just plain stupid
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Plane

(Mathematics) Of or being a figure lying in a plane
A plane curve.
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Plain

Clearly or unequivocally
I'm finished with you, I'll tell you plain
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Plane

Flat; level.
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Plain

A large area of flat land with few trees
The coastal plain
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Plane

To smooth or finish with a plane
Planed the door.
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Plain

Mourn or lament.
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Plane

To remove with a plane
Plane off the rough edges on a board.
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Plain

Free from obstructions; open; clear
In plain view.
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Plane

To work with a plane.
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Plain

Obvious to the perception or mind; evident
Make one's intention plain.
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Plane

To rise partly out of the water, as a hydroplane does at high speeds.
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Plain

Not elaborate or complicated; simple
Plain food.
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Plane

To soar or glide.
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Plain

Marked by little or no ornamentation or decoration
Plain garb.
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Plane

To travel by airplane.
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Plain

Straightforward; frank or candid
Plain talk.
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Plane

Of a surface: flat or level.
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Plain

Not pretentious; unaffected.
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Plane

A level or flat surface.
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Plain

Lacking beauty or distinction
A plain face.
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Plane

(geometry) A flat surface extending infinitely in all directions (e.g. horizontal or vertical plane). Category:en:Surfaces
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Plain

Not mixed with other substances; pure
Plain water.
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Plane

(anatomy) An imaginary plane which divides the body into two portions.
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Plain

Common in rank or station; average; ordinary
A plain man.
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Plane

A level of existence or development.
Astral plane
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Plain

Not dyed, twilled, or patterned
A plain fabric.
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Plane

A roughly flat, thin, often moveable structure used to create lateral force by the flow of air or water over its surface, found on aircraft, submarines, etc. (Compare airfoil, hydrofoil.)}}
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Plain

Sheer; utter; unqualified
Plain stupidity.
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Plane

Any of 17 designated ranges of 216 (65,536) sequential code points each.
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Plain

(Archaic) Having no visible elevation or depression; flat; level.
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Plane

A tool for smoothing wood by removing thin layers from the surface.
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Plain

Often plains An extensive, level, usually treeless area of land.
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Plane

An airplane; an aeroplane.
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Plain

A broad level expanse, as a part of the sea floor or a lunar mare.
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Plane

(entomology) Any of various nymphalid butterflies, of various genera, having a slow gliding flight.
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Plain

Something free of ornamentation or extraneous matter.
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Plane

(entomology) The butterfly Bindahara phocides, family Lycaenidae, of Asia and Australasia.
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Plain

Clearly; simply
Plain stubborn.
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Plane

(countable) A deciduous tree of the genus Platanus.
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Plain

Flat, level.
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Plane

(Northern UK) A sycamore.
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Plain

Simple, unaltered.
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Plane

To smooth (wood) with a plane.
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Plain

Ordinary; lacking adornment or ornamentation; unembellished.
He was dressed simply in plain black clothes.
A plain tune
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Plane

To move in a way that lifts the bow out of the water.
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Plain

Of just one colour; lacking a pattern.
A plain pink polycotton skirt
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Plane

To glide or soar.
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Plain

Simple in habits or qualities; unsophisticated, not exceptional, ordinary.
They're just plain people like you or me.
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Plane

Any tree of the genus Platanus.
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Plain

(of food) Having only few ingredients, or no additional ingredients or seasonings; not elaborate, without toppings or extras.
Would you like a poppy bagel or a plain bagel?
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Plane

A surface, real or imaginary, in which, if any two points are taken, the straight line which joins them lies wholly in that surface; or a surface, any section of which by a like surface is a straight line; a surface without curvature.
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Plain

(computing) Containing no extended or nonprinting characters (especially in plain text).
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Plane

An ideal surface, conceived as coinciding with, or containing, some designated astronomical line, circle, or other curve; as, the plane of an orbit; the plane of the ecliptic, or of the equator.
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Plain

Obvious.
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Plane

A block or plate having a perfectly flat surface, used as a standard of flatness; a surface plate.
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Plain

Evident to one's senses or reason; manifest, clear, unmistakable.
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Plane

A tool for smoothing boards or other surfaces of wood, for forming moldings, etc. It consists of a smooth-soled stock, usually of wood, from the under side or face of which projects slightly the steel cutting edge of a chisel, called the iron, which inclines backward, with an apperture in front for the escape of shavings; as, the jack plane; the smoothing plane; the molding plane, etc.
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Plain

Downright; total, unmistakable (as intensifier).
His answer was just plain nonsense.
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Plane

Without elevations or depressions; even; level; flat; lying in, or constituting, a plane; as, a plane surface.
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Plain

Open.
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Plane

To make smooth; to level; to pare off the inequalities of the surface of, as of a board or other piece of wood, by the use of a plane; as, to plane a plank.
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Plain

Honest and without deception; candid, open; blunt.
Let me be plain with you: I don't like her.
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Plane

To efface or remove.
He planed away the names . . . written on his tables.
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Plain

Clear; unencumbered; equal; fair.
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Plane

Figuratively, to make plain or smooth.
What student came but that you planed her path.
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Plain

Not unusually beautiful; unattractive.
Throughout high school she worried that she had a rather plain face.
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Plane

Of a boat, to lift more or less out of the water while in motion, after the manner of a hydroplane; to hydroplane.
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Plain

(card games) Not a trump.
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Plane

An aircraft that has a fixed wing and is powered by propellers or jets;
The flight was delayed due to trouble with the airplane
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Plain

(obsolete) Full, complete in number or extent.
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Plane

(mathematics) an unbounded two-dimensional shape;
We will refer to the plane of the graph as the X-Y plane
Any line joining two points on a plane lies wholly on that plane
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Plain

(colloquial) Simply.
It was just plain stupid.
I plain forgot.
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Plane

A level of existence or development;
He lived on a worldly plane
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Plain

(archaic) Plainly; distinctly.
Tell me plain: do you love me or no?
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Plane

A power tool for smoothing or shaping wood
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Plain

A lamentation.
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Plane

A carpenter's hand tool with an adjustable blade for smoothing or shaping wood;
The cabinetmaker used a plane for the finish work
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Plain

An expanse of land with relatively low relief, usually exclusive of forests, deserts, and wastelands.
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Plane

Cut or remove with or as if with a plane;
The machine shaved off fine layers from the piece of wood
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Plain

(archaic) field in reference to a battlefield.
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Plane

Travel on the surface of water
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Plain

(obsolete) plane: a flat geometric field.
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Plane

Make even or smooth, with or as with a carpenter's plane;
Plane the top of the door
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Plain

To complain.
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Plane

Having a horizontal surface in which no part is higher or lower than another;
A flat desk
Acres of level farmland
A plane surface
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Plain

To lament, bewail.
To plain a loss
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Plane

A flat surface on which a straight line joining any two points lies entirely on that surface.
The artist drew a complex shape, all on one plane.
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Plain

To level; to raze; to make plain or even on the surface.
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Plane

An aircraft that flies through the air.
The plane took off as soon as the storm cleared.
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Plain

To make plain or manifest; to explain.
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Plane

In mathematics, a two-dimensional flat surface extending infinitely far.
We learned about the properties of a geometric plane in class.
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Oct 16, 2023

Plain

To lament; to bewail; to complain.
We with piteous heart unto you pleyne.
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Plain

To lament; to mourn over; as, to plain a loss.
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Plain

To plane or level; to make plain or even on the surface.
We would rake Europe rather, plain the East.
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Plain

To make plain or manifest; to explain.
What's dumb in show, I'll plain in speech.
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Plain

Without elevations or depressions; flat; level; smooth; even. See Plane.
The crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.
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Plain

Open; clear; unencumbered; equal; fair.
Our troops beat an army in plain fight.
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Plain

Not intricate or difficult; evident; manifest; obvious; clear; unmistakable.
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Plain

Void of extraneous beauty or ornament; without conspicious embellishment; not rich; simple.
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Plain

In a plain manner; plainly.
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Plain

Level land; usually, an open field or a broad stretch of land with an even surface, or a surface little varied by inequalities; as, the plain of Jordan; the American plains, or prairies.
Descending fro the mountain into playn.
Him the AmmoniteWorshiped in Rabba and her watery plain.
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Plain

A field of battle.
Lead forth my soldiers to the plain.
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Plain

Extensive tract of level open land;
They emerged from the woods onto a vast open plain
He longed for the fields of his youth
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Plain

A basic knitting stitch
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Plain

Express complaints, discontent, displeasure, or unhappiness;
My mother complains all day
She has a lot to kick about
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Plain

Clearly apparent or obvious to the mind or senses;
The effects of the drought are apparent to anyone who sees the parched fields
Evident hostility
Manifest disapproval
Patent advantages
Made his meaning plain
It is plain that he is no reactionary
In plain view
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Plain

Not elaborate or elaborated; simple;
Plain food
Stuck to the plain facts
A plain blue suit
A plain rectangular brick building
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Plain

Lacking patterns especially in color
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Plain

Not mixed with extraneous elements;
Plain water
Sheer wine
Not an unmixed blessing
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Plain

Free from any effort to soften to disguise;
The plain and unvarnished truth
The unvarnished candor of old people and children
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Plain

Lacking embellishment or ornamentation;
A plain hair style
Unembellished white walls
Functional architecture featuring stark unornamented concrete
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Plain

Lacking stylistic embellishment;
A literal description
Wrote good but plain prose
A plain unadorned account of the coronation
A forthright unembellished style
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Plain

Comprehensible to the general public;
Written for the popular press in plain nontechnical language
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Plain

Lacking in physical beauty or proportion;
A homely child
Several of the buildings were downright homely
A plain girl with a freckled face
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Plain

Unmistakably (`plain' is often used informally for `plainly');
The answer is obviously wrong
She was in bed and evidently in great pain
He was manifestly too important to leave off the guest list
It is all patently nonsense
She has apparently been living here for some time
I thought he owned the property, but apparently not
You are plainly wrong
He is plain stubborn
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Plain

Easier to perceive or understand; clear.
Her guilt was plain to see.
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Plain

Lacking any beautifying details; ordinary.
The room was furnished in plain, unassuming furniture.
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Common Curiosities

Does "plane" always refer to an aircraft?

No, "plane" can also mean a flat surface or a carpenter's tool.
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Oct 16, 2023

Can "plain" have a negative connotation?

Sometimes, "plain" might imply something is uninteresting or unattractive.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 16, 2023

Is a geometric plane the same as a physical one?

No, a geometric plane is an abstract, two-dimensional surface.
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Oct 16, 2023

Can "plain" be a noun?

Yes, referring to a flat area of land.
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Is "plane" used in mathematics?

Yes, it refers to an infinitely extending, two-dimensional flat surface.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 16, 2023

Can "plain" refer to something other than flat land?

Yes, "plain" can describe simplicity, clarity, or something ordinary.
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What does "plane" mean in spiritual contexts?

It refers to a level of existence or consciousness, like "astral plane."
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Is "plain" used in expressions?

Yes, like "plain as day," meaning "very clear."
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Can "plain" describe a type of food?

Yes, "plain" food is usually simple and without heavy sauces or spices.
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What's a "plane" in woodworking?

It's a tool used to smooth or shape wood surfaces.
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What's the origin of "plain" in the context of simplicity?

It comes from the Latin "planus," meaning "clear" or "simple."
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Can "plane" be a verb?

Yes, it means to smooth wood using a plane tool.
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Oct 16, 2023

Are there synonyms for "plain" in the context of simplicity?

Yes, like "simple," "unadorned," or "basic."
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 16, 2023

Are "plane" and "plain" homophones?

Yes, they sound the same but have different meanings and spellings.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 16, 2023

Does "plain" refer to clarity in understanding?

Yes, if something is "plain to see," it's easy to understand.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 16, 2023

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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