Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Related to plain: Plain Dealer
in plain English
In clear, straightforward, and uncomplicated English. Chronic atherosclerosis in the coronary arteries has stopped oxygen-rich blood from reaching the heart, leading to a myocardial infarction. In plain English, you've suffered a heart attack. I wish these software agreements would be written in plain English, rather than this legalese gobbledygook.
in plain view
In full, unrestricted view; visibly, openly, or publicly. I can't believe you go outside in plain view of the neighbors with your bathrobe open! Law enforcement spends so much time and resources going after petty criminals, while all these white-collar crooks on Wall Street are swindling people for millions in plain view!
Smooth, uninterrupted, and/or easy progress, movement, or development. Now that we've gotten that problem figured out, the project should be plain sailing from here on! We've got about a 13-hour road trip ahead of us, but it looks like plain sailing for most of it.
To explain something clearly or make something obvious. I told him that I was going call the cops if he didn't make plain his intentions.
A female who is not considered physically attractive by societal standards. Betty always felt like she was a plain Jane, so she was very surprised when the most handsome boy in school asked her to be his prom date.
be as plain as the nose on (one's) face
To be very obvious or noticeable. Those two have been flirting all afternoon—it's as plain as the nose on your face! In the end, the solution was as plain as the nose on my face.
be plain sailing
To be smooth, uninterrupted, and/or easy, especially as of progress, travel, or development. Now that we've gotten that problem figured out, the project should be plain sailing from here on! We've got about 13 hours of driving ahead of us, but it looks like most of it is plain sailing.
(as) plain as day
Very obvious or noticeable. It's plain as day that they like each other— they've been flirting all evening! In the end, the solution was as plain as day.
(as) plain as the nose on (one's) face
Very obvious or noticeable. Those two have been flirting all afternoon—it's as plain as the nose on your face! In the end, the solution was as plain as the nose on my face.
plain and simple
Essentially or fundamentally so, without exaggeration or elaboration. If you are caught cheating on an exam or assignment, you will be failed on the entire class, plain and simple. No matter how much they claim it will help the average worker, this is a tax break for the wealthy, plain and simple.
pure and simple
Essentially or fundamentally so, without exaggeration or elaboration. If you are caught cheating on an exam or assignment, you will be failed on the entire class, pure and simple. No matter how much they claim it will help the average worker, this is a tax break for the wealthy, pure and simple.
*in plain languageand *in plain English
Fig. in simple, clear, and straightforward language. (*Typically: be ~; put something [into] ~; say something ~; write something ~.) That's too confusing. Please say it again in plain English. Tell me again in plain language.
*plain as dayand *plain as a pikestaff
1. Cliché very plain and simple. (*Also: as ~.) Although his face was as plain as day, his smile made him look interesting and friendly. Fred: I have a suspicion that Marcia is upset with me. Alan: A suspicion? Come on, Fred, that's been plain as a pikestaff for quite some time! 2. and *plain as the nose On one's face Cliché clear and understandable. (*Also: as ~.) The lecture was as plain as day. No one had to ask questions. Jane: I don't understand why Professor Potter has been so friendly this week. Alan: It's plain as the nose on your face. He wants to be nominated for Professor of the Year.
pure and simpleand plain and simple
absolutely; without further complication or elaboration. I told you what you must do, and you must do it, pure and simple. Will you kindly explain to me what it is, pure and simple, that I am expected to do? Just tell me plain and simple, do you intend to go or don't you?
in plain English
In clear, straightforward language, as in The doctor's diagnosis was too technical; please tell us what he meant in plain English. [c. 1500] Also see in so many words.
plain as day
Also, plain as the nose on your face. Very obvious, quite clear, as in It's plain as day that they must sell their house before they can buy another, or It's plain as the nose on your face that she's lying. These similes have largely replaced the earlier plain as a packstaff or pikestaff, from the mid-1500s, alluding to the stick on which a peddler carried his wares over his shoulder. The first term, from the late 1800s, is probably a shortening of plain as the sun at midday; the variant dates from the late 1600s.
Easy going; straightforward, unobstructed progress. For example, The first few months were difficult, but I think it's plain sailing from here on. Alluding to navigating waters free of hazards, such as rocks or other obstructions, this term was transferred to other activities in the early 1800s.
pure and simple
No more and no less, plainly so, as in This so-called educational video is really a game, pure and simple. This expression is very nearly redundant, since pure and simple here mean "plain" and "unadorned." Oscar Wilde played on it in The Importance of Being Earnest (1895): "The truth is rarely pure and never simple." [Second half of 1800s]
plain as dayor
plain as the nose on your face
If something is as plain as day or as plain as the nose on your face, it is very easy to see, or obvious and easy to understand. He was lying there plain as day, in his hospital gown. It's plain as the nose on your face that this company is wildly undervalued. Note: In old-fashioned British English, you can also say that something is plain as a pikestaff. I saw your grandmother this morning, here as plain as a pikestaff, at the foot of my bed. Note: This expression was originally `plain as a packstaff'. A packstaff was a long stick that pedlars used to carry their bundles. The word `pikestaff' was substituted at a later time: a pikestaff was a long walking stick. Both packstaffs and pikestaffs were very plain and simple.
plain sailingBRITISH or
COMMON If an activity or task is plain sailing, it is easy to do or achieve. Once I got used to the diet it was plain sailing and I lost six kilos over a four month period. All of a sudden, my life started to improve, which is not to say that it was all smooth sailing from then on. Note: In American English, you can also use the expressions clear sailing and easy sailing. It's not going to be clear sailing. He's bound to come up with some tough opposition. Once I'd done the paperwork, the rest was easy sailing. Note: `Plain sailing' is sailing in good conditions, without any difficulties. However, the expression may have come from `plane sailing', a method of working out the position of a ship and planning its route using calculations based on the earth being flat rather than round. This is a simple and easy method which is fairly accurate over short distances, especially near the equator.
plain Janean unattractive girl or woman.
2002 Guardian [The film] assembles its stereotypes (the sexy exchange student, the plain Jane who's really a fox, the jock who is only dating her for a bet) then proceeds to gunk them all with a ton of scatalogical prankery.
plain as day (or the nose on your face)very obvious. informal
plain as a pikestaff1 very obvious. 2 ordinary or unattractive in appearance.
This phrase is an alteration of plain as a packstaff , which dates from the mid 16th century, the staff being that of a pedlar, on which he rested his pack of goods for sale. The version with pikestaff had developed by the end of the 16th century
plain sailingused to characterize a process or activity that goes well and is easy and uncomplicated.
pure and simpleand nothing else.
1991 Alabama Game & Fish They are bred for waterfowling, pure and simple.
be (all) plain ˈsailing(American English also be clear ˈsailing) be simple and free from trouble: Life with him isn’t all plain sailing, you know. ♢ She answered the first question well and from then on it was all plain sailing.
in plain ˈEnglishsimply and clearly expressed, without using technical language: I don’t understand these documents at all. Why can’t they write them in plain English?
(as) plain as a ˈpikestaff,
(as) plain as ˈday,
(as) plain as the nose on your ˈface(informal) easy to see or understand; obvious: It’s as plain as a pikestaff; this government is ruining the economy. ♢ You can’t miss the sign, it’s right there, as plain as the nose on your face.
a plain ˈJane(disapproving) a girl or woman who is not very pretty or attractive: She was a shy girl, who always thought of herself as a plain Jane.
ˌpure and ˈsimpleand nothing else: This man is a bully, pure and simple. ▶ ˌpurely and ˈsimply adv.: I am basing my opinion purely and simply on the facts of the case.
pure and simple
mod. basically; essentially. Bart is a crook, pure and simple.