Main definitions of lean in English

: lean1lean2

lean1

verb

  • 1no object, with adverbial Be in or move into a sloping position.

    ‘he leaned back in his chair’
    • ‘Carolyn leaned forward in her plush seat as the large house came into the view at the end of the long drive.’
    • ‘One of the men leaned out the window and told a young man, aged in his teens, to give up his hat.’
    • ‘He leaned forward and pointed to a list of five names on the second page in the folder.’
    • ‘His son sat in the chair before the desk and leaned forward with his elbows resting on his knees.’
    • ‘He asked me to scratch his back and I just leaned over him and put my arms round him.’
    • ‘To get to a lever on an asphalt tanker he had leaned over an engine with an unguarded rotating shaft.’
    • ‘Then he said something that was obviously really important about us two, leant in close and kissed me on the cheek.’
    • ‘I just leaned out of my window and started waving and smiling at all these lovely people.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He leaned back in my arms, looked me in the eye, then put his head on my shoulder and started to purr.’
    • ‘Jack was first tempted to open his garden when someone leaned over the gate to chat and was invited in.’
    • ‘She leaned forward onto her elbows and buried her face in her arms, weeping bitterly.’
    • ‘An hour later it was still there, so I went upstairs to get my camera, and leant out the window to take a picture.’
    • ‘We leant into the smelly wind as we walked and it was strong enough to hold us up.’
    • ‘I leant over and pushed a few stray hairs off her forehead and kissed her gently.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He'd leaned in and just whispered the words in her ear, slipping the ring onto her finger.’
    • ‘He didn't have a clue who I was, so was quite shocked when I leant across to recite his name and address.’
    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’
      • ‘Her kneeling body involuntarily leans against David for support.’
      • ‘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 leaning against my door for support, because I was really weak from a lack of air from laughing so much.’
      • ‘And the anchor of the ill-fated vessel leans against the Visitor's Centre at Port Campbell.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I left him leaning against this concrete support beam, getting his wind back.’
      • ‘But I'm not reading it, as my head leans against the window and the street lights roll past.’
      • ‘But I think that's really only in reference to the fact my desk leans against one of the walls…’
      • ‘I was standing, leaning against the couch, and she was about five feet away from me.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘My right side leant against the wall for support once I got out of the elevator.’
      • ‘He was leaning against the lamp-post waiting for a friend who would help him find a place to stay.’
      • ‘It leans against a wire mesh fence - charred, gnarled and rusting.’
      • ‘A woman, a blond in a dark coat, leans against a pole and possibly cries.’
      • ‘The air seems to thicken around me, and I have to lean against the door to support myself.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He realised that he couldn't escape so he sat down leaning against one of the support beams.’
      rest, be propped up, recline, be supported
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2lean something against/onwith object Cause something to rest against.
      ‘he leaned his elbows on the table’
      • ‘But after that the smile left her face the woman just rested and leant her head against the wall.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She leaned her elbows on the windowsill, resting her chin in her hands.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I lean my elbows on the sill and look down into the city.’
      • ‘He leans his elbow on the desk and rests his forehead in his hand, sighing.’
      • ‘‘I think I've gotten too much information tonight,’ he groaned, leaning his elbows on his knees and resting his chin in one hand.’
      • ‘Suddenly looking very, very bored, her dad leaned his elbow on the table and rested the side of his head in his hand.’
      • ‘One of his knees was pointed up and he leaned his face against the arm that rested upon it.’
      • ‘I gazed out at the stars, leaning my elbows on the edge, for awhile before answering.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She leaned her elbow on the old wood and rested her head on her hand.’
      • ‘They were all seated and Robert leaned forward, leaning his elbows on the table.’
      • ‘He leaned her body against his own, rested her head on his shoulder and stroked her hair as she continued blabbering.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘When I used to cycle everywhere, I would lean my bike against the medieval wall at the back of my flat.’
      • ‘I sighed and leaned my elbow on the arm rest of my chair, cupping my chin in my palm and trying to think.’
      • ‘She rested her chin on her fist and leaned her elbow on her knee, staring into empty space and thinking.’
      • ‘He sat back in the chair, leaned an elbow on the table, and canted his head to rest in that hand.’
      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.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • lean on

    • 1Rely on or derive support from.

      ‘they have learned to lean on each other for support’
      • ‘This is not a guy that has a pitch he can lean on, but instead relies on control and changing speeds.’
      • ‘His conclusion leans on, rather than derives from, the discussion of gambling that precedes it.’
      • ‘David had taught her to lean on other people, to trust, and to love.’
      • ‘He obviously needed someone to lean on, someone to trust.’
      • ‘She really didn't have the option to rely on or to lean on anyone else on that team her freshman year.’
      • ‘So many years of his life had been spent praying for the time when he could lean on someone, trust someone to be there.’
      • ‘The more it leans on the franchise, industry observers believe, the more it risks killing the golden goose.’
      • ‘I felt so dependent, I needed someone to lean on, and the only person I knew that would take me I had pushed away.’
      • ‘You need people you trust to lean on, someone steady in your world that has just been severely and tragically rocked.’
      • ‘She digs deep and leans on her faith in God and believes her life will change.’
      • ‘Science has moved on and so have the tools the police rely upon and lean on in order to prosecute and gain convictions.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘You become involved when others lean on you and depend on you.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Let them lean on you, when they need it.’
      • ‘The team hopes to lean on the ground game and keep pressure off its quarterbacks.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘You hope and trust he has a few good men to lean on among his teammates.’
      • ‘Individuals in these acute situations often seek guidance from someone they can trust or lean on.’
      • ‘I'm the sort of dependable type he can lean on a lot, and he does.’
      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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They leaned on members of Congress, who in turn pressured the commission to back off.’
      • ‘Elections are subject to administrative pressure, some electors are directly leaned on, and counts are manipulated and turnout unconvincingly fixed.’
      • ‘Critics says the US Government is leaning on its neighbour, under pressure from the drugs industry.’
      • ‘Just lean on them, big fella; they'll feel the pressure.’
      • ‘Having your economic team lean on the Bank of Japan to pump more liquidity into the banking system wasn't wise.’
      • ‘The latest twist seems to be for conservationists to ask the World Bank to lean on the government to reduce logging taxes.’
      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’
      • ‘For a site targeting males, use guitars, bass and brass because they lean towards band instruments and sounds.’
      • ‘He offered a softer edge to policy and pronouncements; he deliberately leant towards the centre.’
      • ‘However, another side of the band leans to the more melodic and powerful, wall-of-sound approach.’
      • ‘He said his politics are ‘independent, leaning to libertarian.’’
      • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This is a gorgeous lean wine in a truly subtle Burgundian style.’
    • ‘He was lean and supple, every bit as reptilian as birdlike.’
    • ‘The film is lean, with no unnecessary words, actions, or shots.’
    • ‘He was lean, and built, and he didn't look like he was from around here.’
    • ‘He follows this six-day cycle year-round, which allows him to keep growing yet stay lean in the offseason.’
    • ‘It is a beautifully poised and lean wine, as befits its musical signature of the shrill hunting horn.’
    • ‘However, if you're already lean, chances are you simply have muscular calves.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He was more lean than muscular, though not out of shape.’
    • ‘Noyce's film is lean, making its point by maintaining a sharp focus on the humanity of its characters.’
    • ‘Yes, she was still lean, keen, and beautiful, yet I still knew next to nothing about her past.’
    • ‘He is still lean, despite not having played regularly since May 1999.’
    • ‘If you are already lean but still want to be leaner, pay more attention to improving performance through optimal fueling and training.’
    • ‘At 180 pounds and a little under six feet, he is lean and chiseled, with balled-up biceps and pecs.’
    • ‘He was lean and wiry, but muscled, and there was strength in him.’
    • ‘According to fashion dictates, she is elegantly lean in a most feminine way.’
    • ‘I'm lean, healthy and strong, which makes me feel so much better than any amount of junk food ever could.’
    • ‘He was lean from undernourishment, and had to be at least sixty-years-old.’
    slim, thin, slender, rangy, spare, wiry, slight
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 (of meat) containing little fat.
      ‘lean bacon’
      • ‘Farmed venison means we can buy this lean meat all year round.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I have followed a new dietary program that focuses on vegetables, fruits, lean proteins and whole grains.’
      • ‘If you've got the time, foods such as eggs, poultry, fish, and lean cuts of red meat are excellent sources of complete protein.’
      • ‘Look for lean cuts of these meats with minimal visible fat.’
      • ‘Brush with a few drops of oil if the meat is very lean.’
      • ‘Vitamin B12 can be found in most meats - which should be eaten as lean cuts, and not in excess.’
      • ‘Preparing bison meat is comparable to preparing other lean meats.’
      • ‘However, today it is used primarily as a vehicle to impart flavor and moisture into a lean cut of meat.’
      • ‘A half cup of cooked dry beans is about the same as 1 ounce of lean meat.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘For low-fat meats, choose lean cuts of meat and trim away as much visible fat as possible…’
      • ‘Choosing lean cuts of meat and trimming off the visible fat are easy ways to avoid this problem.’
      • ‘You should shoot for a three-ounce portion of lean meat, which is equal in size to a deck of cards.’
      • ‘Red meat is also acceptable if you choose lean cuts and cut away or drain all visible fat.’
      • ‘It specialises in ‘bush tucker’, so try the Emu pate and the kangaroo steak, which tastes like lean mutton.’
      • ‘Try to stay away from processed foods, eat enough fruits and vegetables, and make sure your cuts of meat are lean.’
      • ‘Each snack should include a whole grain, one or more fruits or vegetables and lean protein.’
      • ‘The lean meat was cut in slivers, arranged on crisp falafel cake, and crowned with a spoonful of tangy green-pepper relish.’
      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’
      • ‘It expects its lean business model to serve it well in a shrinking market.’
      • ‘Too few UK companies are lean, a factor that is reflected in the country's poor relative productivity performance.’
      • ‘Our skills and talents aside, we made a critical error by running the organization too lean.’
      • ‘This indicates a very lean organization where your donation will be put to work, rather than recycled into fundraising efforts.’
      • ‘I do have an agent, but the industry is notoriously lean.’
      • ‘We've seen a reduction in wages and terms conditions, to get what they see as a lean industry, which is a disgrace.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Tech companies are lean enough to make an earnings recovery on the slimmest uptick in demand.’
      • ‘Scotland's financial services industry is strong and lean at present.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The company plans to hire a few more but remain lean in its early years.’
      • ‘The industry is lean today and clearly we need to build relationships with other travel entities that can help us create a total package.’
      • ‘It is a lean business, employing only eight full-time staff and keeping its costs low by outsourcing many of its activities.’
      • ‘Certainly, his operations are lean by Wall Street standards.’
      • ‘It will duplicate many of the lean business practices.’
      • ‘Some people think that corporations are lean, fast-adapting animals.’
      • ‘He is keen to create a lean and efficient operation that will be able to expand rapidly when conditions improve.’
      • ‘That's why he aims for a lean organization, he said.’
  • 2Offering little reward, substance, or nourishment; meagre.

    ‘the lean winter months’
    ‘keep a small reserve to tide you over the lean years’
    • ‘I think it is important for you to share with children how things were in the lean years of your family.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘If you can survive it through the lean years, then you'll be OK later.’
    • ‘The years between 1990 and 1997 were pretty lean.’
    • ‘The next few weeks will be pretty lean till we sort things out.’
    • ‘With a strong educational background, my future may look reasonably bright, but my present is feeling pretty lean.’
    • ‘Throughout the lean years of the depression, Smith was never out of work.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘My acting years were pretty lean - I wasn't any good at it, really.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Perhaps they will appear as actual paying customers in the lean winter months.’
    • ‘But he clearly feels in no hurry to rush back in the pop scene during such lean times for dance music.’
    • ‘After a lean spell with Manchester City, the former Leeds and Liverpool striker has recaptured his sharpness.’
    • ‘And so the hoteliers in the city are planning to see this lean period off with festivals featuring mostly local cuisine or games.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In such lean times, we must search for crumbs of comfort.’
    • ‘Despite these efforts, times remained pretty lean for a lot of woodlot owners in the two counties.’
    • ‘He has less than two years to go, and even he must realise that the accomplishment list is pretty lean.’
    • ‘The money I earned from him helped me over lean periods as I lurched from one temporary job to another.’
    • ‘Spirits during a lean spell are briefly lifted with a superb 4-2 win at struggling Leeds.’
    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’
    • ‘On especially cold days, taxi with a lean mixture to help your engine warm up.’
    • ‘The dual ignition system also allows for an extremely lean fuel-air mixture and late ignition timing during warm-up.’
    • ‘The difference in horsepower per cylinder is the cause of rough running at lean mixtures.’
    • ‘As a result, the engine would run rough due to the lean mixture at all cylinders.’
    • ‘The down side is that the lean mixtures sacrifice peak power.’

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/