Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

plain - definition and synonyms

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

adjective     plain pronunciation in British English
Word Forms
  1. 1
    easily seen or understood

    Hugh’s message was short, but the meaning was plain enough.

    it is plain (that):

    It was plain that they knew each other already.

    it is plain to someone (that):

    It was plain to everyone that Maude was not happy.

    make it plain:

    Therese made it plain that she would not help Robert any more.

    be plain to see:

    Her disappointment was plain to see.

  2. 2
    simple in design, with no decoration

    a plain wooden table

    The gardens were fairly plain, with few plants.

    a plain white T-shirt

    We sell a selection of plain and patterned ties.

    1. b.
      not very attractive

      He seems to go for plain quiet women.

    2. c.
      [only before noun] used before a name for saying that someone does not have a special title or name

      It’s just plain Mr Cunningham now, no need to call me Doctor.

  3. 3
    expressing what you think honestly, using simple, direct language

    a plain answer

    plain speaking/talking:

    She was admired for her plain speaking.

derived word


noun [uncountable]
  • Facebook
  • Twitter


a lifestyle focussing on simple pleasures such as comfort and cosiness in the home, and spending time with friends and family

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


a form of location that involves the underwater detonation of a bomb which causes sound waves that are picked up by ships

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play