lankier; lankiest
: ungracefully tall and thin
lankily adverb
lankiness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for lanky

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 lanky in a Sentence

the lanky basketball star was great at slam-dunking
Recent Examples on the Web The other, a lanky middle-aged man shivering in jeans and a hoodie, was Tony Hawk. Bret Anthony Johnston, The New Yorker, 22 Jan. 2024 Tall and lanky, with long hair and an endearingly dorky air about him, this guy doesn’t exactly fit the profile of someone who will hurt her. Peter Debruge, Variety, 21 Jan. 2024 Tall and lanky, Crombie’s character had a flat, borderline menacing affect and an unblinking 1,000-yard stare. Aimee Ortiz, New York Times, 14 Jan. 2024 Vanderbilt was a big part of that, the lanky defender looking more like himself after missing the first 20 games because of a heel injury. Dan Woike, Los Angeles Times, 18 Jan. 2024 Weighing from 2-2.5 pounds, the black-bellied is a long-legged, lanky duck, easily identified by a reddish-pink bill and almost comical pink legs. M.d. Johnson, Field & Stream, 10 Jan. 2024 The door is locked but there is a phone number posted outside, and soon a lanky, white-haired man appears jangling a key ring. Nina Strochlic, Washington Post, 29 Dec. 2023 That’s Ray Waller (a lanky, perfectly cast Wyatt Russell), until recently a hard-hitting Brewers third baseman who’s just received a prognosis of multiple sclerosis and is already emitting sad loser stink. Joshua Rothkopf, Los Angeles Times, 6 Jan. 2024 Tall and lanky, the 27-year-old man wore a light blue durag, a white shirt, gray pants and a backpack. Dan Barry, New York Times, 3 Jan. 2024 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

circa 1818, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of lanky was circa 1818

Dictionary Entries Near lanky

Cite this Entry

“Lanky.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


lankier; lankiest
: being tall, thin, and usually loose-jointed
a lanky teenager
lankily adverb
lankiness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on lanky

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!