: not well filled out : slender, thin
lank cattle
: insufficient in quantity, degree, or extent
: hanging straight and limp without spring or curl
lankly adverb
lankness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for lank

lean, spare, lank, lanky, gaunt, rawboned, scrawny, skinny mean thin because of an absence of excess flesh.

lean stresses lack of fat and of curving contours.

a lean racehorse

spare suggests leanness from abstemious living or constant exercise.

the gymnast's spare figure

lank implies tallness as well as leanness.

the lank legs of the heron

lanky suggests awkwardness and loose-jointedness as well as thinness.

a lanky youth, all arms and legs

gaunt implies marked thinness or emaciation as from overwork or suffering.

a prisoner's gaunt face

rawboned suggests a large ungainly build without implying undernourishment.

a rawboned farmer

scrawny and skinny imply an extreme leanness that suggests deficient strength and vitality.

a scrawny chicken
skinny street urchins

Examples of lank in a Sentence

a woman with long, lank hair right after a shower, her lank hair hung down to her shoulders
Recent Examples on the Web Soon everywhere the hair was lank, the poses crumpled and morose, and the Azzedine dresses and bouclé suits traded in for flannels and peasant frocks. Sally Singer, Vogue, 11 Aug. 2023 Most versions are also surprisingly lightweight, helping to make locks lustrous but not lank. Jamie Wilson, Harper's BAZAAR, 14 June 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'lank.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Old English hlanc; akin to Old High German hlanca loin

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of lank was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near lank

Cite this Entry

“Lank.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lank. Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: not well filled out : thin
lank cattle
: hanging straight and limp without spring or curl
lank hair
lankly adverb
lankness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on lank

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