Word of the Day: Vane

vane: \ veyn \  , noun; 

1. a person who is readily changeable or fickle.
2. weather vane.
3. a blade, plate, sail, etc., in the wheel of a windmill, to be moved by the air.
4. any of a number of blades or plates attached radially to a rotating drum or cylinder, as in a turbine or pump, that move or are moved by a fluid, as steam, water, hot gases, or air.
5. Aerospace . a. any fixed or movable plane surface on the outside of a rocket providing directional control while the rocket is within the atmosphere. b. a similar plane surface located in the exhaust jet of a reaction engine, providing directional control while the engine is firing.
6. Ornithology . the web of a feather.
7. Navigation, Surveying . either of two fixed projections for sighting an alidade or the like.
8. Archery . feather.
It must be admitted that he was a vane , turning on a pivot finer than those on which statesmen have generally been made to work.
Anthony Trollope, The Life of Cicero , 1880
Spewing out “chaff,” that reanimated dead metaphor in British English for useless verbiage or humbug, the grinding nonsense of the Office serves merely as a weather vane  for the clichéd winds of change.
Garrett Stewart, Edited by John O. Jordan, “Dickens and Language,” The Cambridge Companion to Charles Dickens , 2001
Vane  is a variant of the word fane , meaning “flag; banner.” It entered English in the mid-1400s.
Example sentences
*So it’s vane  to talk about blood since it’s wrong to judge national background on this single factor.
*Scan a feather and enlarge it to poster size and you’ll see each vane  and barb.
*He’s a bombast anyway, a vane  orator, the way so many pol’s are.
*The final effect was stately: a white building with a blue and white cupola topped by a weather vane .
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC.

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