I tried to look for other meanings of 'vane' not related to aerodynamics (weather vane, vane of a feather, etc), and I wasn't really successful. Oxforddictionaries.com gives an example of adjective as 'three-vaned windmill'.

But dictionary.com drops some examples which definitely stray from the definition, which doesn't touch them:

So it's vane to talk about blood since it's wrong to judge national background on this single factor.

He's a bombast anyway, a vane orator, the way so many pol's are.

These definitely don't relate to the given meanings which literally or figuratively refer to something affected by the wind.

What does it mean in the examples above? What other meanings does (or did in the past, archaic/obsolete are okay) this word take that are not direct derivatives of the primary a blade, plate, sail, etc., in the wheel of a windmill, to be moved by the air. ?

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    Try looking up vain instead, it might be that your examples are using the wrong word. – Frank May 19 '14 at 20:08
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    @Frank Clearly they are. – WS2 May 19 '14 at 21:14
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    Tolkien famously substitutes vane for vain in Bilbo's 'When winter first begins to bite' in 'The Adventures of Tom Bombadil ...' He does imply that Bilbo was being rather capricious. – Edwin Ashworth May 19 '14 at 22:09

It definitely appears to be a misspelling of vain, though the meaning would be different in the two sentences given. The first sentence would, while ugly, make more sense as

So it is in vain to talk about blood since it's wrong to judge national background on this single factor.

In the first, the use of [in] vain is to explain the pointlessness of taking that avenue of discourse, and the second sentence comments on the narcissism of politicians.

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Dictionary.com is broken.

The first example sentences you gave, the ones directly from dictionary.com, are obviously not good examples for the canonical meaning of 'vane' which is a feather like thing that changes with the wind.

I will not go so far as to say they are wrong (however terribly much I would like to) because one might give a (very strained) interpretation of those sentences where 'vane' might fit metaphorically.

Those examples are more easily interpreted as good examples sentences for 'vain' (self-centered).

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  • I will go that far: they are misspellings of "vain". If enough people misspell it (possibly like fuschia), it will become a variant spelling, but right now it's just plane wrong (although you can make a case that it should be spelled vein in the first sentence :-) ). – Peter Shor May 20 '14 at 14:37
  • Dictionary.com is indeed broken. "The principal of fasting is making our organs rest more." – Peter Shor May 20 '14 at 14:45

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