There are 2 main definitions of lean in English:

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lean1

Syllabification: lean
Pronunciation: /lēn
 
/

verb (past and past participle leaned /lēnd/ or chiefly British leant /lent/)

[no object]
1Be in or move into a sloping position: he leaned back in his chair
More example sentences
  • He leaned forward and pointed to a list of five names on the second page in the folder.
  • She leaned forward onto her elbows and buried her face in her arms, weeping bitterly.
  • Carolyn leaned forward in her plush seat as the large house came into the view at the end of the long drive.
Synonyms
slant, incline, bend, tilt, be at an angle, slope, tip, list
1.1 (lean against/on) Incline from the perpendicular and rest for support on or against (something): a man was leaning against the wall
More example sentences
  • My right side leant against the wall for support once I got out of the elevator.
  • He dismounted and strode off to a nearby tree; he leant against it and rested.
  • Her kneeling body involuntarily leans against David for support.
Synonyms
rest on/against, recline on/against, be supported by
1.2 [with object] (lean something against/on) Cause something to rest on or against: he leaned his elbows on the table
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • She leaned her elbows on the windowsill, resting her chin in her hands.

noun

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A deviation from the perpendicular; an inclination: the vehicle has a definite lean to the left
More example sentences
  • Their limbs stretch out, yawning and dipping into spirals, leans and lifts.

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.

More
  • The two words spelled lean are of different origins. Both are Old English, but the one meaning ‘be in a sloping position’ shares a root of Latin clinare, as in incline (Middle English); decline (Late Middle English); and recline (Late Middle English). We sometimes talk of lean years or a lean period. This expression comes from the story of Joseph in the Bible. He successfully interprets Pharaoh's disturbing dream, in which seven plump, healthy cattle come out of the river and begin to feed. Seven lean, malnourished animals then leave the river and proceed to eat the plump cattle. According to Joseph's interpretation, there will be seven years of plenty in Egypt followed by seven lean years. Pharaoh, impressed by Joseph, appoints him vice-regent to prepare the country for the ordeal of the seven lean years. A person who is lean and hungry is active and alert-looking. The phrase comes from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar—‘Yond' Cassius has a lean and hungry look.’

Phrasal verbs

lean on

1
1Rely on or derive support from: they have learned to lean on each other for support
More example sentences
  • His conclusion leans on, rather than derives from, the discussion of gambling that precedes it.
  • 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.
  • She really didn't have the option to rely on or to lean on anyone else on that team her freshman year.
Synonyms
depend on, be dependent on, rely on, count on, bank on, have faith in, trust (in)
2Put pressure on (someone) to act in a certain way: a determination not to allow the majority to lean on the minority
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • Critics says the US Government is leaning on its neighbour, under pressure from the drugs industry.
Synonyms
intimidate, coerce, browbeat, bully, threaten, put pressure on, harass, hassle
informal twist someone's arm, put the screws on, hold a gun to someone's head

lean to/toward

2
Incline or be partial to (a view or position): I now lean toward sabotage as the cause of the crash
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • For a site targeting males, use guitars, bass and brass because they lean towards band instruments and sounds.
Synonyms
tend toward, incline toward, gravitate toward;
have a preference for, have a penchant for, be partial to, have a liking for, have an affinity with

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There are 2 main definitions of lean in English:

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lean2

Syllabification: lean
Pronunciation: /lēn
 
/

adjective

1(Of a person or animal) thin, especially healthily so; having no superfluous fat: his lean, muscular body
More example sentences
  • 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 was lean and wiry, but muscled, and there was strength in him.
Synonyms
1.1(Of meat) containing little fat: lean bacon
More example sentences
  • The lean meat was cut in slivers, arranged on crisp falafel cake, and crowned with a spoonful of tangy green-pepper relish.
  • For low-fat meats, choose lean cuts of meat and trim away as much visible fat as possible…
  • Look for lean cuts of these meats with minimal visible fat.
1.2(Of an industry or company) efficient and with no waste: he made leaner government a campaign theme
More example sentences
  • I do have an agent, but the industry is notoriously lean.
  • The industry is lean today and clearly we need to build relationships with other travel entities that can help us create a total package.
  • We've seen a reduction in wages and terms conditions, to get what they see as a lean industry, which is a disgrace.
2(Of an activity or a period of time) offering little reward, substance, or nourishment; meager: the lean winter months keep a small reserve to tide you over the lean years
More example sentences
  • If you can survive it through the lean years, then you'll be OK later.
  • Throughout the lean years of the depression, Smith was never out of work.
  • I think it is important for you to share with children how things were in the lean years of your family.
Synonyms
meager, sparse, poor, mean, inadequate, insufficient, paltry, scanty, deficient, insubstantial
hard, bad, difficult, tough, impoverished, poverty-stricken
3(Of a vaporized fuel mixture) having a high proportion of air: lean air-to-fuel ratios
More example sentences
  • The down side is that the lean mixtures sacrifice peak power.
  • As a result, the engine would run rough due to the lean mixture at all cylinders.
  • The dual ignition system also allows for an extremely lean fuel-air mixture and late ignition timing during warm-up.

noun

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The lean part of meat.
Example sentences
  • 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.

More
  • The two words spelled lean are of different origins. Both are Old English, but the one meaning ‘be in a sloping position’ shares a root of Latin clinare, as in incline (Middle English); decline (Late Middle English); and recline (Late Middle English). We sometimes talk of lean years or a lean period. This expression comes from the story of Joseph in the Bible. He successfully interprets Pharaoh's disturbing dream, in which seven plump, healthy cattle come out of the river and begin to feed. Seven lean, malnourished animals then leave the river and proceed to eat the plump cattle. According to Joseph's interpretation, there will be seven years of plenty in Egypt followed by seven lean years. Pharaoh, impressed by Joseph, appoints him vice-regent to prepare the country for the ordeal of the seven lean years. A person who is lean and hungry is active and alert-looking. The phrase comes from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar—‘Yond' Cassius has a lean and hungry look.’

Derivatives

leanly

1
adverb
Example sentences
  • The stigma [for failure] is less because we staff projects leanly and encourage them to just move, move, move.
  • The experiences gained by the management of organizations go a long way in helping us leanly operate our churches.
  • It has operated leanly in the field and in Washington.

leanness

2
noun
Example sentences
  • The table for border weight of excessive leanness was presented to female college students and the validity of the table was assessed through a questionnaire.
  • In particular, the combination of training and nutrition in this program are designed to get you to your desired leanness while maintaining or even increasing muscle mass.
  • Disclosed herein are genetic markers for pig leanness, methods for identifying such markers, and methods of screening pigs to determine those more or less likely to be obese.

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