Synonyms & Antonyms of lean

(Entry 1 of 3)

1 to set or cause to be at an angle
  • just lean the ladder against the tree and climb up it

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2 to show a liking or proneness (for something)
  • the family's diet leans toward greasy food

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3 to place reliance or trust
  • you can always lean on me if you need help

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Synonyms & Antonyms of lean (Entry 2 of 3)



Synonyms & Antonyms of lean (Entry 3 of 3)

the degree to which something rises up from a position level with the horizon
  • the wall has enough of a lean that we can't set a bookcase against it

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See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About lean

How does the adjective lean contrast with its synonyms?

Some common synonyms of lean are gaunt, lanky, lank, rawboned, scrawny, skinny, and spare. While all these words mean "thin because of an absence of excess flesh," lean stresses lack of fat and of curving contours.

a lean racehorse

When is gaunt a more appropriate choice than lean?

The words gaunt and lean can be used in similar contexts, but gaunt implies marked thinness or emaciation as from overwork or suffering.

a prisoner's gaunt face

When is it sensible to use lank instead of lean?

The words lank and lean are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, lank implies tallness as well as leanness.

the lank legs of the heron

When would lanky be a good substitute for lean?

The synonyms lanky and lean are sometimes interchangeable, but lanky suggests awkwardness and loose-jointedness as well as thinness.

a lanky youth, all arms and legs

In what contexts can rawboned take the place of lean?

The meanings of rawboned and lean largely overlap; however, rawboned suggests a large ungainly build without implying undernourishment.

a rawboned farmer

How do scrawny and skinny relate to one another, in the sense of lean?

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

a scrawny chicken

skinny street urchins

When could spare be used to replace lean?

While the synonyms spare and lean are close in meaning, spare suggests leanness from abstemious living or constant exercise.

the gymnast's spare figure

Learn More About lean

Time Traveler for lean

Time Traveler

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

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Cite this Entry

“Lean.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on lean

Nglish: Translation of lean for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of lean for Arabic Speakers


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