What does lean mean?

Definitions for lean

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word lean.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. tilt, list, inclination, lean, leaningadjective

    the property possessed by a line or surface that departs from the vertical

    "the tower had a pronounced tilt"; "the ship developed a list to starboard"; "he walked with a heavy inclination to the right"

  2. thin, leanadjective

    lacking excess flesh

    "you can't be too rich or too thin"; "Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look"-Shakespeare

  3. leanadjective

    lacking in mineral content or combustible material

    "lean ore"; "lean fuel"

  4. lean, skimpyadjective

    containing little excess

    "a lean budget"; "a skimpy allowance"

  5. leanverb

    not profitable or prosperous

    "a lean year"

  6. lean, tilt, tip, slant, angleverb

    to incline or bend from a vertical position

    "She leaned over the banister"

  7. leanverb

    cause to lean or incline

    "He leaned his rifle against the wall"

  8. tend, be given, lean, incline, runverb

    have a tendency or disposition to do or be something; be inclined

    "She tends to be nervous before her lectures"; "These dresses run small"; "He inclined to corpulence"

  9. leanverb

    rely on for support

    "We can lean on this man"

  10. list, leanverb

    cause to lean to the side

    "Erosion listed the old tree"

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Leanadjective

    Etymology: hlæne , Saxon.

    You tempt the fury of my three attendants,
    Lean famine, quartering steel, and climbing fire. William Shakespeare.

    Lean raw-bon’d rascals! who would e’er suppose,
    They had such courage and audacity! William Shakespeare.

    Lean look’d prophets whisper fearful change. William Shakespeare.

    I would invent as bitter searching terms,
    With full as many signs of deadly hate,
    As lean-fac’d envy in her loathsome cave. William Shakespeare.

    Seven other kine came up out of the river, ill-favoured and lean-fleshed. Gen. xli. 3.

    Let a physician beware how he purge after hard frosty weather, and in a lean body, without preparation. Francis Bacon.

    And fetch their precepts from the cynic tub,
    Praising the lean, and sallow, abstinence. John Milton.

    Swear that Adrastus, and the lean-look’d prophet,
    Are joint conspirators. John Dryden, Oedipus.

    Lean people often suffer for want of fat, as fat people may by obstruction of the vessels. John Arbuthnot, on Aliments.

    No laughing graces wanton in my eyes;
    But hagger’d grief, lean looking sallow care,
    Dwell on my brow. Nicholas Rowe, Jane Shore.

    There are two chief kinds of terrestrial liquors, those that are fat and light, and those that are lean and more earthy, like common water. Thomas Burnet, Theory of the Earth.

    That which combin’d us was most great, and let not
    A leaner action rend us. William Shakespeare, Ant. and Cleopatra.

  2. Leannoun

    That part of flesh which consists of the muscle without the fat.

    With razors keen we cut our passage clean
    Through rills of fat, and deluges of lean. George Farquhar.

  3. To Leanv.n. peter. leaned or leant.

    Etymology: hlinan , Saxon; lenen, Dutch.

    Lean thine aged back against mine arm,
    And in that case I’ll tell thee my disease. William Shakespeare.

    Security is expressed among the medals of Gordianus, by a lady leaning against a pillar, a scepter in her hand, before an altar. Henry Peacham, on Drawing.

    The columns may be allowed somewhat above their ordinary length, because they lean unto so good supporters. Henry Wotton.

    Upon his iv’ry sceptre first he leant,
    Then shook his head, that shook the firmament. Dryden.

    Oppress’d with anguish, panting and o’erspent,
    His fainting limbs against an oak he leant. John Dryden, Æn.

    If he be angry, all our other dependencies will profit us nothing; every other support will fail under us when we come to lean upon it, and deceive us in the day when we want it most. John Rogers, Sermons.

    Then leaning o’er the rails he musing stood. John Gay.

    Mid the central depth of black’ning woods,
    High rais’d in solemn theatre around
    Leans the huge elephant. James Thomson, Summer.

    They delight rather to lean to their old customs, though they be more unjust, and more inconvenient. Edmund Spenser.

    Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. Prov. iii. 5.

    A desire leaning to either side, biasses the judgment strangely. Isaac Watts, Improvement of the Mind.

    She leans me out at her mistress’s chamber window, bids me a thousand times good night. William Shakespeare.

    Wearied with length of ways, and worn with toil,
    She laid her down; and leaning on her knees,
    Invok’d the cause of all her miseries. Dryden.

    The gods came downward to behold the wars,
    Sharp’ning their sights, and leaning from their stars. Dryd.


  1. lean

    Lean generally refers to something thin, efficient, or with minimal waste. It is often used in the context of business and manufacturing to describe an approach focused on minimizing waste while maximizing productivity and value for the customer. Overall, lean denotes practices that streamline processes, reduce excess (time, effort, materials, etc.), and ensure effectiveness.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Leanverb

    to conceal

  2. Leanverb

    to incline, deviate, or bend, from a vertical position; to be in a position thus inclining or deviating; as, she leaned out at the window; a leaning column

  3. Leanverb

    to incline in opinion or desire; to conform in conduct; -- with to, toward, etc

  4. Leanverb

    to rest or rely, for support, comfort, and the like; -- with on, upon, or against

  5. Leanverb

    to cause to lean; to incline; to support or rest

  6. Leanverb

    wanting flesh; destitute of or deficient in fat; not plump; meager; thin; lank; as, a lean body; a lean cattle

  7. Leanverb

    wanting fullness, richness, sufficiency, or productiveness; deficient in quality or contents; slender; scant; barren; bare; mean; -- used literally and figuratively; as, the lean harvest; a lean purse; a lean discourse; lean wages

  8. Leanverb

    of a character which prevents the compositor from earning the usual wages; -- opposed to fat; as, lean copy, matter, or type

  9. Leannoun

    that part of flesh which consist principally of muscle without the fat

  10. Leannoun

    unremunerative copy or work

  11. Etymology: [OE. lenen, AS. hlinian, hleonian, v. i.; akin to OS. hlinn, D. leunen, OHG. hlinn, linn, G. lehnen, L. inclinare, Gr. kli`nein, L. clivus hill, slope. 40. Cf. Declivity, Climax, Incline, Ladder.]

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Lean

    lēn, v.i. to incline or bend: to turn from a straight line: to rest against: to incline towards:—pr.p. lean′ing; pa.t. and pa.p. leaned or leant (lent).—n. Lean′-to, a shed or penthouse whose supports lean upon another building or wall. [A.S. hlinian, and causal form hlǽnan; Dut. leunen.]

  2. Lean

    lēn, adj. thin, wanting flesh: not fat: unprofitable, taking extra time—a printer's phrase.—n. flesh without fat.—adj. Lean′-faced, having a thin face: (print.) slender and narrow, as letters.—adv. Lean′ly.—n. Lean′ness.—adj. Lean′-wit′ted, of little sense. [A.S. hlǽne; Low Ger. leen; according to Skeat, from hlǽnan, to lean (above).]

Dictionary of Nautical Terms

  1. lean

    Used in the same sense as clean or sharp; the reverse of full or bluff in the form of a ship.

Rap Dictionary

  1. leannoun

    Codeine syrup available only with a prescription, see also sipping lean. It is called "lean" because that is what drinking it makes you do. Smoking out, pourin up, keepin' lean up in my cup, all my car got leather 'n wood, in my hood we call it buck. -- Jay-Z featuring Bun B and Pimp C (Big Pimpin')

  2. leanverb

    To be intoxicated from sipping lean. Sippin' on syrup cause I love to lean, high as fu** 'cause I'm puffin green, and I got more amphetamines than eckerds, or walgreens -- 3 Six Mafia featuring Lil' Flip (Rainbow Colors)

Suggested Resources

  1. LEAN

    What does LEAN stand for? -- Explore the various meanings for the LEAN acronym on the Abbreviations.com website.

Surnames Frequency by Census Records

  1. LEAN

    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Lean is ranked #37899 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

    The Lean surname appeared 586 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 0 would have the surname Lean.

    65.5% or 384 total occurrences were White.
    15.5% or 91 total occurrences were Asian.
    10.5% or 62 total occurrences were of Hispanic origin.
    5.8% or 34 total occurrences were Black.

Matched Categories

British National Corpus

  1. Verbs Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'lean' in Verbs Frequency: #406

Anagrams for lean »

  1. lane

  2. neal

  3. alen

  4. nael

  5. lena

How to pronounce lean?

How to say lean in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of lean in Chaldean Numerology is: 5

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of lean in Pythagorean Numerology is: 5

Examples of lean in a Sentence

  1. Richard Milhous Nixon:

    So you are lean and mean and resourceful and you continue to walk on the edge of the precipice because over the years you have become fascinated by how close you can walk without losing your balance.

  2. Bryan Wang:

    They're growing so fast and so lean, I wouldn't be surprised even if they were losing money, every company is trying to match the Xiaomi price.

  3. Tara McGowan:

    Too many candidates and party committees still today lean way too closely to outdated assumptions of how to win elections and lean on a very old, outdated model, you don't pick a very small, targeted group of people and meet them one-on-one or over broadcast television and move the needle just enough to win.

  4. Michael Gresty:

    The reason that we can't understand these motions; the brain if you like can't understand these motions, is that there's continual conflict between what is upright and whether you should lean to balance yourself in the environment or whether you're actually experiencing a sideways acceleration force. You imagine being on a bicycle or a motorbike; you go round a corner, you lean into the corner which remains perfectly upright in physics. You don't so that in a car, you don't do that on a ship - you're actually struggling to find out what is upright and what's the best way of dealing with it.

  5. Mariska Hargitay:

    The way I’ve lived with loss is to lean into it, as the saying goes, the only way out is through. In my life, certainly, I’ve tried to avoid pain, loss, feeling things. But I’ve learned instead to really lean into it because sooner or later you have to pay the piper.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for lean

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

  • الخالية منArabic
  • abocar, magre, repenjar-se, inclinarCatalan, Valencian
  • opřítCzech
  • lehnen, knapp, dürr, anlehnen, mager, schlankGerman
  • reclinar, apoyar, delgado, magro, esbelto, ajustado, arrimar, estrecho, sobreoxigenado, declinarSpanish
  • لمیدنPersian
  • nojata, kallistaa, laiha, nojautua, hoikka, kallistuaFinnish
  • serré, pauvre, presser, mince, maigre, pencherFrench
  • delgado, delgadaGalician
  • sandarIndonesian
  • appoggiare, sporgersi, ricca, adagiare, slanciato, magro, scarso, sodo, asciutto, adagiarsi, magra, reclinare, pendereItalian
  • 傾く, もたれるJapanese
  • ನೇರKannada
  • 기대다Korean
  • پاڵدانه‌وه‌Kurdish
  • liess, kalsnsLatvian
  • whararaMāori
  • leneNorwegian
  • leunen, mager, tenger, aanleunenDutch
  • lene, bikkeNorwegian Nynorsk
  • mager, slankNorwegian
  • oprzeć sięPolish
  • esbelto, reclinar-se, magro, [[apoiar]]-[[se]]Portuguese
  • slab, ține, inclina, subțire, rezemaRomanian
  • бедный, обеднённый, поджарый, прислоняться, опираться, скромный, тощий, постный, наклоняться, опереться, наклониться, сухощавый, скудный, худой, прислонитьсяRussian
  • viseti, nasloniti seSlovene
  • mager, smal, lutaSwedish
  • zayıf, kıt, dayanmak, yağlı, yağsız, yaslanmak, inceTurkish
  • kambag'al, ozg'inUzbek
  • maigueWalloon
  • Chinese

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"lean." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 27 Sep. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/lean>.

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