from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Long and lean. See Synonyms at lean2.
  • adj. Long, straight, and limp: lank and floppy hair.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Slender or thin; not well filled out; not plump; shrunken; lean.
  • adj. Straight and flat; thin and limp. (often associated with being greasy)
  • adj. languid; drooping.
  • v. To become lank; to make lank.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Slender and thin; not well filled out; not plump; shrunken; lean.
  • adj. Languid; drooping.
  • v. To become lank; to make lank.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Meagerly slim; attenuated; lean; gaunt: as, a tall, lank man.
  • Loose or lax and yielding readily to pressure; not distended; shrunken; shriveled: as, a lank sack or purse.
  • Straight and flat, as hair.
  • Languid; drooping.
  • To grow or become lank or thin.
  • n. Lankness; leanness.
  • n. The groin.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. long and thin and often limp
  • adj. long and lean


Middle English, from Old English hlanc.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Old English hlanc; confer German lenken ("to turn"), gelenk ("joint"), Old High German hlanca ("hip, side, flank"), and English link (of a chain). (Wiktionary)


  • And a smile played round my lips as I recalled his lank yellow hair (often standing on end), his sloping shoulders and his female hands -- a strange appearance which a certain vivacity of mind sometimes rendered engaging.


  • Sunburnt and tall and kind of lank, but good-lookin '.

    The Way of the Wind

  • Mr Barker suggested if they were going to "knife the Rubbish from Rio" then Mr Sono would be the perfect person to do it as he had "lank" experience of getting rid of Bafana coaches just before World Cups.

    IOL: News

  • 84 Pikes: A powerful, toothed fish, of gaunt build ( "lank"), found in streams, lakes and moats, noted for its cannibalism.

    The Beggar's Opera

  • My hair was lank and stringy; no doubt I even smelled bad.

    The Dark Side of Innocence

  • Cara squinted out the half-opened window, brushing back a strand of lank brown hair.


  • Bunches of leared cattle – who stay content in familiar areas – graze the lank grass and prickly gorse of East Moor.

    Country diary: North Hill, Cornwall

  • In fact, watching a deflated Van Damme shuffling around in the snow, his mullet lank and unwashed, his face ravaged by time is a genuinely unpleasant experience.

    The Hard Sell: Coors Light

  • Her thin, lank hair thickened and flourished, and roses bloomed in her milky cheeks.

    Slice Of Cherry

  • Nothing about him was quite right: his face was too long, his eyes too deeply set, his lids too heavy, his moustache too lank and his mouth too wide, yet he fit together perfectly.

    Exit the Actress


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  • The Century Dictionary's definition of lank as "the groin" colors the other definitions given.

    October 1, 2011