Main definitions of lean in English

: lean1lean2

lean1

verb

[NO OBJECT]
  • 1 Be in or move into a sloping position:

    ‘he leaned back in his chair’
    • ‘Then he said something that was obviously really important about us two, leant in close and kissed me on the cheek.’
    • ‘He leant back in his chair, as if he was only incidentally present in the courtroom.’
    • ‘He leant over their table like a solicitous waiter, holding his warrant card.’
    • ‘An hour later it was still there, so I went upstairs to get my camera, and leant out the window to take a picture.’
    • ‘He leaned forward and pointed to a list of five names on the second page in the folder.’
    • ‘Carolyn leaned forward in her plush seat as the large house came into the view at the end of the long drive.’
    • ‘We leant into the smelly wind as we walked and it was strong enough to hold us up.’
    • ‘It stands 187 feet high and until 1990 was leaning over at about a 10-degree angle, the top being 17 feet further over than was originally intended.’
    • ‘Jack was first tempted to open his garden when someone leaned over the gate to chat and was invited in.’
    • ‘He didn't have a clue who I was, so was quite shocked when I leant across to recite his name and address.’
    • ‘One of the men leaned out the window and told a young man, aged in his teens, to give up his hat.’
    • ‘His son sat in the chair before the desk and leaned forward with his elbows resting on his knees.’
    • ‘To get to a lever on an asphalt tanker he had leaned over an engine with an unguarded rotating shaft.’
    • ‘He leaned back in my arms, looked me in the eye, then put his head on my shoulder and started to purr.’
    • ‘I leant over and pushed a few stray hairs off her forehead and kissed her gently.’
    • ‘She leaned forward onto her elbows and buried her face in her arms, weeping bitterly.’
    • ‘I just leaned out of my window and started waving and smiling at all these lovely people.’
    • ‘He'd leaned in and just whispered the words in her ear, slipping the ring onto her finger.’
    • ‘After about ten minutes of this, he let his arms fall to his sides one last time and leant back against the wall of the theatre.’
    • ‘He asked me to scratch his back and I just leaned over him and put my arms round him.’
    slant, incline, bend, tilt, be at an angle, slope, tip, bank, list, heel, careen, cant, bias, veer, sway, angle
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1lean against/on Incline from the perpendicular and rest for support against (something):
      ‘a man was leaning against the wall’
      • ‘He realised that he couldn't escape so he sat down leaning against one of the support beams.’
      • ‘He was leaning against the lamp-post waiting for a friend who would help him find a place to stay.’
      • ‘A woman, a blond in a dark coat, leans against a pole and possibly cries.’
      • ‘My right side leant against the wall for support once I got out of the elevator.’
      • ‘It leans against a wire mesh fence - charred, gnarled and rusting.’
      • ‘I arrived back to find that someone had kindly left a large ladder leaning against the side of my flat by my living room window.’
      • ‘This one woman goes and leans against the door, watching the road where the buses would come from.’
      • ‘On one corner a giant orange teddy bear leans against a pole, a camouflage army hat and white gym towel resting on its head.’
      • ‘But I think that's really only in reference to the fact my desk leans against one of the walls…’
      • ‘Her kneeling body involuntarily leans against David for support.’
      • ‘And the anchor of the ill-fated vessel leans against the Visitor's Centre at Port Campbell.’
      • ‘I was leaning against my door for support, because I was really weak from a lack of air from laughing so much.’
      • ‘I left him leaning against this concrete support beam, getting his wind back.’
      • ‘The air seems to thicken around me, and I have to lean against the door to support myself.’
      • ‘Well, in situations like this, i'll just push my hand through and grab the pole, and then look away disinterestedly as the person who is leaning on the pole turns around to look at me.’
      • ‘I was standing, leaning against the couch, and she was about five feet away from me.’
      • ‘But I'm not reading it, as my head leans against the window and the street lights roll past.’
      • ‘Just behind them a haystack rears up, a ladder leaning against the side.’
      • ‘He slouches to his feet and leans against a wall to be photographed, all limbs and mortified smile.’
      • ‘He dismounted and strode off to a nearby tree; he leant against it and rested.’
      rest, be propped up, recline, be supported
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2lean something against/on[with object] Cause something to rest against:
      ‘he leaned his elbows on the table’
      • ‘‘I think I've gotten too much information tonight,’ he groaned, leaning his elbows on his knees and resting his chin in one hand.’
      • ‘I sighed and leaned my elbow on the arm rest of my chair, cupping my chin in my palm and trying to think.’
      • ‘One of his knees was pointed up and he leaned his face against the arm that rested upon it.’
      • ‘There's a real nice one where you can be sitting on a bale of hay and leaning your elbows on a fake barnyard fence.’
      • ‘He sat back in the chair, leaned an elbow on the table, and canted his head to rest in that hand.’
      • ‘They were all seated and Robert leaned forward, leaning his elbows on the table.’
      • ‘Suddenly looking very, very bored, her dad leaned his elbow on the table and rested the side of his head in his hand.’
      • ‘I leant my bike on the side of her car and explained patiently through the window that she was going to pay for a new wheel.’
      • ‘She leaned her elbows on the windowsill, resting her chin in her hands.’
      • ‘When I used to cycle everywhere, I would lean my bike against the medieval wall at the back of my flat.’
      • ‘But after that the smile left her face the woman just rested and leant her head against the wall.’
      • ‘He leaned her body against his own, rested her head on his shoulder and stroked her hair as she continued blabbering.’
      • ‘She rested her chin on her fist and leaned her elbow on her knee, staring into empty space and thinking.’
      • ‘I gazed out at the stars, leaning my elbows on the edge, for awhile before answering.’
      • ‘He leans his elbow on the desk and rests his forehead in his hand, sighing.’
      • ‘She leaned her elbow on the old wood and rested her head on her hand.’
      • ‘I lean my elbows on the sill and look down into the city.’
      • ‘I sighed and leaned my arms on the railing, resting my chin in my hands.’
      • ‘He leaned his elbows on the table, and then rested his chin on his clasped hands.’
      • ‘Sophie leant her elbows on her knees and cradled her chin in her hands, praying, hoping and wishing for anything to come and make things easier.’
      rest, be propped up, recline, be supported
      View synonyms

noun

  • A deviation from the perpendicular; an inclination:

    ‘the vehicle has a definite lean to the left’
    • ‘Their limbs stretch out, yawning and dipping into spirals, leans and lifts.’

Phrases

Phrasal Verbs

  • lean on

    • 1Rely on or derive support from:

      ‘they have learned to lean on each other for support’
      • ‘So many years of his life had been spent praying for the time when he could lean on someone, trust someone to be there.’
      • ‘It can be tempting to lean on your partner and rely on them for reassurance, but the stronger you are as an individual, the stronger and more equal your relationship will be.’
      • ‘On the other side of the coin, in times of crisis, he was always there, a rock to lean on… someone I could always count on to pull a rabbit out of the hat… or throw the sun back into the sky for us.’
      • ‘David had taught her to lean on other people, to trust, and to love.’
      • ‘Science has moved on and so have the tools the police rely upon and lean on in order to prosecute and gain convictions.’
      • ‘You need people you trust to lean on, someone steady in your world that has just been severely and tragically rocked.’
      • ‘She really didn't have the option to rely on or to lean on anyone else on that team her freshman year.’
      • ‘This is not a guy that has a pitch he can lean on, but instead relies on control and changing speeds.’
      • ‘You hope and trust he has a few good men to lean on among his teammates.’
      • ‘He obviously needed someone to lean on, someone to trust.’
      • ‘The more it leans on the franchise, industry observers believe, the more it risks killing the golden goose.’
      • ‘Individuals in these acute situations often seek guidance from someone they can trust or lean on.’
      • ‘Let them lean on you, when they need it.’
      • ‘The team hopes to lean on the ground game and keep pressure off its quarterbacks.’
      • ‘She digs deep and leans on her faith in God and believes her life will change.’
      • ‘I'm the sort of dependable type he can lean on a lot, and he does.’
      • ‘Another cause for consternation is peddlers of bad policy leaning on conventional wisdom that, while generally believed, turns out to be false at every turn.’
      • ‘His conclusion leans on, rather than derives from, the discussion of gambling that precedes it.’
      • ‘You become involved when others lean on you and depend on you.’
      • ‘I felt so dependent, I needed someone to lean on, and the only person I knew that would take me I had pushed away.’
      depend, be dependent, rely, count, bank, pin one's faith
      View synonyms
    • 2Put pressure on (someone) to act in a certain way:

      ‘a determination not to allow the majority to lean on the minority’
      • ‘Just lean on them, big fella; they'll feel the pressure.’
      • ‘They leaned on members of Congress, who in turn pressured the commission to back off.’
      • ‘Critics says the US Government is leaning on its neighbour, under pressure from the drugs industry.’
      • ‘For the kids there had to be 100% loyalty to her or she would lean on their little minds until they folded under the pressure and let her have her way.’
      • ‘Elections are subject to administrative pressure, some electors are directly leaned on, and counts are manipulated and turnout unconvincingly fixed.’
      • ‘The latest twist seems to be for conservationists to ask the World Bank to lean on the government to reduce logging taxes.’
      • ‘If it tries to make big changes in the BBC now, it could look as if it is genuinely attempting to lean on, to pressure the Corporation, and obviously it won't want to be seen to do that.’
      • ‘Having your economic team lean on the Bank of Japan to pump more liquidity into the banking system wasn't wise.’
      intimidate, coerce, domineer, browbeat, bully, tyrannize, pressurize, threaten, compel, pressure, put pressure on, force, drive, impel, constrain
      View synonyms
  • lean to/towards

    • Incline or be partial to (a view or position):

      ‘I now lean towards sabotage as the cause of the crash’
      • ‘However, another side of the band leans to the more melodic and powerful, wall-of-sound approach.’
      • ‘He offered a softer edge to policy and pronouncements; he deliberately leant towards the centre.’
      • ‘He said his politics are ‘independent, leaning to libertarian.’’
      • ‘For a site targeting males, use guitars, bass and brass because they lean towards band instruments and sounds.’
      • ‘So that still leaves us looking for a country that leans towards coins yet has coins of increasing size with value.’
      tend, incline, gravitate, have a tendency
      View synonyms

Origin

Old English hleonian, hlinian, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch leunen and German lehnen, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin inclinare and Greek klinein.

Pronunciation:

lean

/liːn/

Main definitions of lean in English

: lean1lean2

lean2

adjective

  • 1(of a person or animal) thin, especially healthily so; having no superfluous fat:

    ‘his lean, muscular body’
    • ‘The key to staying lean all over is to get enough exercise and eat healthfully.’
    • ‘He was lean and supple, every bit as reptilian as birdlike.’
    • ‘He was lean and wiry, but muscled, and there was strength in him.’
    • ‘If you are already lean but still want to be leaner, pay more attention to improving performance through optimal fueling and training.’
    • ‘However, if you're already lean, chances are you simply have muscular calves.’
    • ‘Yes, she was still lean, keen, and beautiful, yet I still knew next to nothing about her past.’
    • ‘Noyce's film is lean, making its point by maintaining a sharp focus on the humanity of its characters.’
    • ‘This is a gorgeous lean wine in a truly subtle Burgundian style.’
    • ‘He was more lean than muscular, though not out of shape.’
    • ‘I would like to start with the popular story of the fat dog and the lean wolf, which was in circulation during my student days in Sambalpur in Orissa in the late 1970s.’
    • ‘He is still lean, despite not having played regularly since May 1999.’
    • ‘The film is lean, with no unnecessary words, actions, or shots.’
    • ‘At 180 pounds and a little under six feet, he is lean and chiseled, with balled-up biceps and pecs.’
    • ‘It is a beautifully poised and lean wine, as befits its musical signature of the shrill hunting horn.’
    • ‘He was lean, and built, and he didn't look like he was from around here.’
    • ‘They're also packed with protein and low in carbs and fat, so you can build muscle, stay lean, and satisfy your sweet tooth at the same time.’
    • ‘According to fashion dictates, she is elegantly lean in a most feminine way.’
    • ‘He was lean from undernourishment, and had to be at least sixty-years-old.’
    • ‘I'm lean, healthy and strong, which makes me feel so much better than any amount of junk food ever could.’
    • ‘He follows this six-day cycle year-round, which allows him to keep growing yet stay lean in the offseason.’
    slim, thin, slender, rangy, spare, wiry, slight
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 (of meat) containing little fat:
      ‘lean bacon’
      • ‘Vitamin B12 can be found in most meats - which should be eaten as lean cuts, and not in excess.’
      • ‘The lean meat was cut in slivers, arranged on crisp falafel cake, and crowned with a spoonful of tangy green-pepper relish.’
      • ‘Try to stay away from processed foods, eat enough fruits and vegetables, and make sure your cuts of meat are lean.’
      • ‘Preparing bison meat is comparable to preparing other lean meats.’
      • ‘However, if the meat is very lean or has no marinade, or if your marinade contains a lot of sugar, brush the food or grill lightly with oil to prevent sticking.’
      • ‘Choosing lean cuts of meat and trimming off the visible fat are easy ways to avoid this problem.’
      • ‘A half cup of cooked dry beans is about the same as 1 ounce of lean meat.’
      • ‘Red meat is also acceptable if you choose lean cuts and cut away or drain all visible fat.’
      • ‘If you've got the time, foods such as eggs, poultry, fish, and lean cuts of red meat are excellent sources of complete protein.’
      • ‘I have followed a new dietary program that focuses on vegetables, fruits, lean proteins and whole grains.’
      • ‘Brush with a few drops of oil if the meat is very lean.’
      • ‘For low-fat meats, choose lean cuts of meat and trim away as much visible fat as possible…’
      • ‘You should shoot for a three-ounce portion of lean meat, which is equal in size to a deck of cards.’
      • ‘Each snack should include a whole grain, one or more fruits or vegetables and lean protein.’
      • ‘Farmed venison means we can buy this lean meat all year round.’
      • ‘However, today it is used primarily as a vehicle to impart flavor and moisture into a lean cut of meat.’
      • ‘Look for lean cuts of these meats with minimal visible fat.’
      • ‘The meat is lean and sweet and tender enough to roast.’
      • ‘Her own stews were so lean that the butchers used to disappear into the meatlocker when they saw her coming.’
      • ‘It specialises in ‘bush tucker’, so try the Emu pate and the kangaroo steak, which tastes like lean mutton.’
      non-fatty, unfatty
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 (of an industry or company) efficient and with no wastage:
      ‘staff were pruned, ostensibly to produce a leaner and fitter organization’
      • ‘The company plans to hire a few more but remain lean in its early years.’
      • ‘Tech companies are lean enough to make an earnings recovery on the slimmest uptick in demand.’
      • ‘That's why he aims for a lean organization, he said.’
      • ‘Certainly, his operations are lean by Wall Street standards.’
      • ‘This indicates a very lean organization where your donation will be put to work, rather than recycled into fundraising efforts.’
      • ‘The industry is lean today and clearly we need to build relationships with other travel entities that can help us create a total package.’
      • ‘I do have an agent, but the industry is notoriously lean.’
      • ‘He is keen to create a lean and efficient operation that will be able to expand rapidly when conditions improve.’
      • ‘He said he wants a lean organization with a ‘singular focus on infrastructure management.’’
      • ‘He's consistently made it clear Scottish government should be lean and efficient, with taxpayers' money spent on key services.’
      • ‘Scotland's financial services industry is strong and lean at present.’
      • ‘Our skills and talents aside, we made a critical error by running the organization too lean.’
      • ‘Too few UK companies are lean, a factor that is reflected in the country's poor relative productivity performance.’
      • ‘It will duplicate many of the lean business practices.’
      • ‘It expects its lean business model to serve it well in a shrinking market.’
      • ‘We've seen a reduction in wages and terms conditions, to get what they see as a lean industry, which is a disgrace.’
      • ‘The industry in which I am employed is currently fairly lean.’
      • ‘Although lean thinking in industry often results in staff reductions, it first creates extra capacity by identifying and eliminating wasted resource.’
      • ‘It is a lean business, employing only eight full-time staff and keeping its costs low by outsourcing many of its activities.’
      • ‘Some people think that corporations are lean, fast-adapting animals.’
  • 2Offering little reward, substance, or nourishment; meagre:

    ‘the lean winter months’
    ‘keep a small reserve to tide you over the lean years’
    • ‘Spirits during a lean spell are briefly lifted with a superb 4-2 win at struggling Leeds.’
    • ‘While they may not be able to bring in the same levels of revenue as foreign tourists, they would help tourist destinations bridge over such lean times as the present.’
    • ‘One boat had over a hundred stone and the fishermen are now poised for a break in the weather to make some decent landings and earn some much needed cash after a very lean period.’
    • ‘In southern Africa we used to take every foodstuff we could lay our hands on, dry it or salt it, and stash it away for use during the lean winter months or for travel.’
    • ‘In such lean times, we must search for crumbs of comfort.’
    • ‘He has less than two years to go, and even he must realise that the accomplishment list is pretty lean.’
    • ‘Despite these efforts, times remained pretty lean for a lot of woodlot owners in the two counties.’
    • ‘Throughout the lean years of the depression, Smith was never out of work.’
    • ‘With a strong educational background, my future may look reasonably bright, but my present is feeling pretty lean.’
    • ‘When I go to see him he plays brilliantly and then has a wee lean spell but I think when you're a flair player you tend to be more inconsistent.’
    • ‘I think it is important for you to share with children how things were in the lean years of your family.’
    • ‘But he clearly feels in no hurry to rush back in the pop scene during such lean times for dance music.’
    • ‘The money I earned from him helped me over lean periods as I lurched from one temporary job to another.’
    • ‘The next few weeks will be pretty lean till we sort things out.’
    • ‘Perhaps they will appear as actual paying customers in the lean winter months.’
    • ‘If you can survive it through the lean years, then you'll be OK later.’
    • ‘And so the hoteliers in the city are planning to see this lean period off with festivals featuring mostly local cuisine or games.’
    • ‘The years between 1990 and 1997 were pretty lean.’
    • ‘After a lean spell with Manchester City, the former Leeds and Liverpool striker has recaptured his sharpness.’
    • ‘My acting years were pretty lean - I wasn't any good at it, really.’
    meagre, scanty, sparse, poor, scant, mean, inadequate, insufficient, paltry, limited, restricted, modest, deficient, insubstantial, slight
    unproductive, unfruitful, unprofitable, unremunerative, arid, barren
    View synonyms
  • 3(of a vaporized fuel mixture) having a high proportion of air:

    ‘lean air-to-fuel ratios’
    • ‘The down side is that the lean mixtures sacrifice peak power.’
    • ‘The difference in horsepower per cylinder is the cause of rough running at lean mixtures.’
    • ‘The dual ignition system also allows for an extremely lean fuel-air mixture and late ignition timing during warm-up.’
    • ‘On especially cold days, taxi with a lean mixture to help your engine warm up.’
    • ‘As a result, the engine would run rough due to the lean mixture at all cylinders.’

noun

  • [mass noun] The lean part of meat:

    ‘the man who eats no fat and the wife who eats no lean’
    • ‘Traditionally, meat with yellow fat and dark lean has been deemed a lesser quality product at the retail level.’
    • ‘Max Conrad used lean of peak to set distance records in his Comanche in the 1960s when he flew over 7,600 miles nonstop.’

Origin

Old English hlǣne, of Germanic origin.

Pronunciation:

lean

/liːn/