verb (1)
\ ˈlēn How to pronounce lean (audio) \
leaned\ ˈlēnd How to pronounce leaned (audio) , chiefly British  ˈlent \; leaning\ ˈlē-​niŋ How to pronounce leaning (audio) \

Definition of lean

 (Entry 1 of 6)

intransitive verb

1a : to incline, deviate, or bend from a vertical position He leaned back in his chair.
b : to cast one's weight to one side for support lean on me as we walk.
2 : to rely for support or inspiration preferred not to lean on his father in building a careerCurrent Biography
3 : to incline in opinion, taste, or desire leaning toward a career in chemistry

transitive verb

: to cause to lean : incline The boy leaned his head on his mother's shoulder.
lean on
: to apply pressure to They were leaning on the governor to pass the law.


noun (1)

Definition of lean (Entry 2 of 6)

: the act or an instance of leaning : inclination



Definition of lean (Entry 3 of 6)

1a : lacking or deficient in flesh
b : containing little or no fat lean meat
2 : lacking richness, sufficiency, or productiveness lean profits the lean years
3 : deficient in an essential or important quality or ingredient: such as
a of ore : containing little valuable mineral
b : low in combustible component used especially of fuel mixtures
4 : characterized by economy (as of style, expression, or operation)


verb (2)
leaned; leaning; leans

Definition of lean (Entry 4 of 6)

transitive verb

: to make lean


noun (2)

Definition of lean (Entry 5 of 6)

: the part of meat that consists principally of lean muscle


biographical name
\ ˈlēn How to pronounce Lean (audio) \

Definition of Lean (Entry 6 of 6)

Sir David 1908–1991 British film director

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Other Words from lean


leanly adverb
leanness \ ˈlēn-​nəs How to pronounce leanness (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for lean

Synonyms: Adjective

bony (also boney), fatless, lithe, skinny, slender, slim, spare, svelte, thin

Antonyms: Adjective

chubby, corpulent, fat, gross, obese, overweight, plump, portly, rotund, tubby

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Choose the Right Synonym for lean


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


lean, thin, skinny mean not having a great amount of flesh. lean is used of a lack of unnecessary flesh and may also be used for the tough, muscular frame of an athlete. He has the lean body of a runner. thin can describe a person having not much flesh or fat and often having an amount less than is desirable for good health. She's a thin and sickly child. skinny suggests a bony, noticeably thin appearance that may indicate poor nourishment. We found a skinny stray cat.

Examples of lean in a Sentence


She has a lean, athletic body. all of the marathoners are extremely lean

First Known Use of lean

Verb (1)

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

Noun (1)

1776, in the meaning defined above


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

Verb (2)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for lean

Verb (1) and Noun (1)

Middle English lenen, from Old English hleonian; akin to Old High German hlinēn to lean, Greek klinein, Latin clinare


Middle English lene, from Old English hlǣne

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Dictionary Entries near lean






lean and mean


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Time Traveler for lean

The first known use of lean was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for lean



English Language Learners Definition of lean

: not having much fat on the body : physically thin, strong, and healthy
: containing little or no fat
: not having or producing much money, food, etc.


\ ˈlēn How to pronounce lean (audio) \
leaned; leaning

Kids Definition of lean

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to bend or tilt from an upright position Lean the ladder against the wall. I leaned forward.
2 : to bend and rest on You can lean on me.
3 : depend sense 1 She leans on her friends for help.
4 : to tend or move toward in opinion, taste, or desire She leans towards city life.


leaner; leanest

Kids Definition of lean (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : having too little flesh : skinny lean cattle
2 : having little body fat a lean athlete
3 : containing very little fat lean meat
4 : not large or plentiful a lean harvest

Other Words from lean

leanness noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on lean

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with lean

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for lean

Spanish Central: Translation of lean

Nglish: Translation of lean for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of lean for Arabic Speakers

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