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 Despite everything, after all this time, his in-game avatar looks just like him: not too tall, but lanky. Bryan Washington, The New Yorker, 29 Aug. 2023 Shorten long, lanky canes that can whip around in the wind. Rita Perwich, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2 Sep. 2023 The lanky 6-foot-2 former defenseman on his Arlington County high school lacrosse team loved being a Marine, said his father, Bart Collart. Antonio Olivo, Washington Post, 30 Aug. 2023 The objects of their affections, unfortunately, are cheerleaders who want nothing to do with them, lanky, blasé Brittany (Kaia Gerber) and sweet, adorable Isabel (Havana Rose Liu), who’s under the thumb of the school’s bullying, numbnuts football star Jeff (Nicholas Galitzine). Stephanie Zacharek, Time, 25 Aug. 2023 Hurtig, a lanky forward with a prow of bright-blond hair, loped toward the ball and sent a low, hard shot. Louisa Thomas, The New Yorker, 6 Aug. 2023 Their lanky arms and legs work in harmony with a grasping tail, which serves as a fifth limb in the treetops. Anna Nordseth, Discover Magazine, 15 Aug. 2023 First was David Smith Jr., a lanky pro who’s been around a bit. Tyler R. Tynes, Los Angeles Times, 23 July 2023 Colorado Avalanche - Center Calum Ritchie, Oshawa Long, lanky center with high level offensive skills. Kyle Woodlief, USA TODAY, 28 June 2023 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 4 Oct. 2023.

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
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