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Plain’ vs ‘Plane’: What’s the Difference?

Shaun Connell
June 19, 2024

Looking for the difference between 'plain' vs. 'plane?' If so, I can help!

 Here is a quick overview in case you are short on time: 

  • 'Plain' is an adjective, noun, verb, and adverb that means lacking beauty or embellishment. 
  • 'Plane' is a noun, verb, and adjective with several meanings, including aircraft and a common field of existence. 
  • 'Plain' and 'plane' are homonyms. They sound the same but have different spellings, meanings, and usages. 

In this guide, I will explain more about the difference between these phrases and how you use them. So, stick around!

What is the Difference Between 'Plain' vs. 'Plane?'

'Plain' and 'plane' are homonyms, which means they sound the same but have different meanings and spellings. So, many writers get confused about which term to use.

That's right, even freelance writers with years of experience occasionally get tripped up by terms like these. What sets them apart is that they take the time to research the correct term to use if they are unsure.

So, when it comes to 'plain' and 'plane,' the first word refers to a simple state or appearance. The latter refers to a flat surface, creating a flat surface, or traveling over one.

Definition of 'Plain': What Does 'Plain' Mean?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary Defines 'plain' as an adjective that means:

  • Ordinary or undecorated
  • Pure or free of extraneous matter
  • Clear or obvious
  • Blunt or free from subtlety or duplicity
  • Common or prominent among the masses
  • Lacking special features or ordinary
  • Uncomplicated or characterized by simplicity
  • Lacking ugliness or beauty
  • Level or even

'Plain' is also a noun defined as:

  • An expanse of rolling or level treeless country
  • An unbroken, broad expanse
  • Something simple or unadorned by artifice or ornaments

As an adverb, 'plain' means:

  • In a plain or simple manner
  • Completely or absolutely

'Plain' can also be a verb that means:

  • Complain

However, the above use is archaic, so people rarely use it. Nevertheless, if you are self-publishing a book on Amazon set in the past, you may want to incorporate it.

Synonyms of 'Plain'

Knowing synonyms for popular terms like these is beneficial whether you are a greeting card writer or a best-selling author. Furthermore, looking at a word's synonyms can help you better understand its meaning.

So, here are some synonyms you can use for 'plain':

  • Simple
  • Undecorated
  • Naked
  • Bare
  • Clean
  • Unembellished
  • Stripped
  • Unvarnished
  • Unsophisticated
  • Bleak
  • Boring
  • Modest
  • Reserved
  • Earthy
  • Natural
  • Subdued
  • Muted
  • Unpretentious
  • Divested
  • Stark
  • Minimalist
  • Toned Down
  • Antiseptic
  • Denuded
  • Sober
  • Pure
  • Straight
  • Neat
  • Unmixed
  • Undiluted
  • Absolute
  • Clarified
  • Purified
  • Unmixed
  • Uncontaminated

Definition of 'Plane': What Does 'Plane' Mean?

The same dictionary defines 'plane' as a noun that means:

  • Airplane, jet, airbus, etc.
  • One of the significant supporting surfaces of an airplane
  • A level of conscientiousness, development, or existence
  • A tool used to smooth things

'Plane' can also be a verb that means:

  • To level or make even or smooth
  • To use a plane to make something even or smooth
  • To work with a plane tool
  • To do the work of a plane tool or to make something smooth or smooth something out metaphorically

As a verb, 'plane' means:

  • To fly without flapping wings
  • To skim or glide across the surface of a body of water
  • To travel in a plane

'Plane' can also be an adjective that means:

  • Having no depressions or elevations
  • Completely flat
  • Lying in a plane

Synonyms of 'Plane'

Here is a list of synonyms for 'plane':

  • Airplane
  • Aircraft
  • Ship
  • Jet
  • Aeroplane
  • Airship
  • Airliner
  • Bomber
  • Liner
  • Trimotor
  • Air bus
  • Air taxi
  • Trijet
  • Turboprop
  • Jetliner
  • Biplane
  • Fighter
  • Glider
  • Warplane
  • Aerodyne
  • Jumbo jet
  • Jump jet
  • Lightplane
  • Triplane
  • Torpedo bomber
  • Level
  • Smooth
  • Alined
  • Exact
  • Flush
  • Flat
  • Even
  • Uniform
  • Staight
  • Aligned
  • True
  • Regular

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Plain' or 'Plain'

As I mentioned, these words are pronounced the same despite having different spellings.

Here is a pronunciation guide you can reference.

  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'plain':


  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'plane':


Writing Tips: When and How to Use 'Plain' vs. 'Plane'

I explained the difference and definitions of 'plain' and 'plane', but you may still be confused about how to use each. So, here are some tips.

  • Use 'plain' when you are describing something as simple or natural.

For example, you could say:

She tried on a beautiful gown with jewels, lace, and embellishments, but she decided on a plain gown. 

  • Use 'plane' if you are talking about an aircraft.

As an example, you might hear me say:

We need to hurry up and get to the airport. Otherwise, we are going to miss our plane and our journey will be ruined. 

  • Use 'plane' if you are referring to a tool used to make things flat.

So, you could say:

The workers used planes to flatten the surface of the concrete. 

  • Use 'plain' if you are saying that something is apparent or obvious.

For example, you might say:

It was plain for everyone to see. 

  • Use 'plane' when referring to something that glides.

So, you might hear me say:

It was incredible to see the aircraft plane across the water. 

Sample Sentences Using 'Plain' and 'Plane'

Now, here are some sample sentences using 'plain' and 'plane.' Read through them to ensure that you know and remember how to use both terms.


  • Do you have anything fancier? This one is so plain.
  • I do not want plain Jane shoes! I want a pair that stands out.
  • We walked past the plain window but it didn't grab our attention.


  • The travel writer shared all of her plane experiences with her followers.
  • Will you plane that? It is really uneven.
  • We watched him plane across the water without skis. It was incredible.

Conclusion: 'Plain' vs. 'Plane'

Now that you've finished the entire post, let's quickly recap what you learned about the difference between 'plain' vs. 'plane': 

  • 'Plain' is an. adjective, noun, verb, and adverb used to say that something is ordinary or unembellished. 
  • 'Plane' is a noun, verb, and adjective that means airplane, a flat or level surface, a tool to make a surface even, or the action of smoothing a surface. 

Homonyms like these often confuse even experienced writers. So, if you are unsure which spelling to use in the future, return to this lesson for a quick review.

And, if you want to learn about other words like these that are frequently misspelled, mispronounced, or misused, check out a few of our other writer guides before you leave.

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Written By:
Shaun Connell
Shaun Connell has spent his entire career either working as a freelance writer or hiring freelance writers for his many successful publications. Shaun has learned the exact tricks of the trade to hire the perfect writer for almost any niche.

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