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

Definition of lean

 (Entry 1 of 5)

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 5)

: the act or an instance of leaning : inclination



Definition of lean (Entry 3 of 5)

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 5)

transitive verb

: to make lean


noun (2)

Definition of lean (Entry 5 of 5)

: the part of meat that consists principally of lean muscle

Other Words from lean


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

Synonyms & Antonyms for lean

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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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

Examples of lean in a Sentence

Adjective 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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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.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lean. Accessed 15 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for lean


\ 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

Choose the Right Synonym for lean


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.

Lean biographical name

\ ˈlēn How to pronounce Lean (audio) \

Definition of Lean

Sir David 1908–1991 British film director

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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