Interesting bit from Jay Nordlinger's Impromtus today:
"Let's have a little language. I was reading a speech by Prof. Harvey Mansfield, titled "A New Feminism." And he speaks these sentences: "Men . . . have a more abstract sense of importance than women that is also more egoistic. Women may be vain, but men are conceited."
Now, Mansfield is a careful user of words - so that sent me scurrying (as scurry I can) to discover the distinction, precisely, between "vain" and "conceited."
For "vain," I find "excessively proud of one's appearance or accomplishments; conceited." For "conceited," I find "holding or characterized by an unduly high opinion of oneself; vain." So, they are presented as synonyms. But I nevertheless sniff a distinction, and suspect that Mansfield knows what he's talking about."