Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Not fleshy or fat; thin.
  • adjective Containing little fat or less fat relative to a standard.
  • adjective Not productive or prosperous; meager.
  • adjective Containing little excess or waste; spare.
  • adjective Thrifty in management, especially by employing just enough people to accomplish a task or do business.
  • adjective Metallurgy Low in mineral contents.
  • adjective Chemistry Lacking in combustible material.
  • noun Meat with little or no fat.
  • intransitive verb To bend or slant away from the vertical.
  • intransitive verb To incline the weight of the body so as to be supported: synonym: slant.
  • intransitive verb To rely for assistance or support.
  • intransitive verb To have a tendency or preference.
  • intransitive verb Informal To exert pressure.
  • intransitive verb To set or place so as to be resting or supported.
  • intransitive verb To cause to incline.
  • noun A tilt or an inclination away from the vertical.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • See lain.
  • Scant of flesh; not fat or plump; spare; thin; lank: as, a lean body.
  • Free from fat; consisting only or chiefly of solid flesh or muscle: as, lean meat; the lean part of a steak.
  • Lacking in substance or in that which gives value; poor or scanty in essential qualities or contents; bare; barren; meager: as, a lean discourse; a lean purse; lean soil; lean trees.
  • Exhibiting or producing leanness.
  • Among printers, unprofitable; consuming extra time or labor.
  • Synonyms Spare, lank, gaunt, skinny, poor, emaciated.
  • noun That part of flesh which consists of muscle without fat.
  • noun Any flesh that adheres to the blubber of a whale: same as fat-lean.
  • noun Among printers, unprofitable work.
  • noun Deviation from a vertical position; inclination.
  • To incline or deviate from a vertical position or line; deviate from an erect position; take or have an inclining posture or direction; bend or stoop out of line: as, the column leans to the north; the leaning tower of Pisa; to lean against a wall or over a balustrade.
  • To deviate from a straight or straightforward line; turn: as, the road leans to the right.
  • To depend, as for support or comfort: usually with on or upon: as, to lean on one's arm; to lean on the help of a friend.
  • To bow or bend in submission; yield.
  • To incline, as in feeling or opinion; tend, as in conduct: as, he leans toward fatalism.
  • To incline for support or rest.
  • To become lean.
  • To make lean: as, the climate leans one very soon.
  • In whaling, to remove the Lean or flesh from (blubber) with the leaning-knife.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Wanting flesh; destitute of or deficient in fat; slim; not plump; slender; meager; thin; lank
  • adjective Wanting fullness, richness, sufficiency, or productiveness; deficient in quality or contents; slender; scant; barren; bare; mean; -- used literally and figuratively
  • adjective (Typog.) Of a character which prevents the compositor from earning the usual wages; -- opposed to fat.
  • transitive verb To cause to lean; to incline; to support or rest.
  • noun That part of flesh which consists principally of muscle without the fat.
  • noun (Typog.) Unremunerative copy or work.
  • intransitive verb To incline, deviate, or bend, from a vertical position; to be in a position thus inclining or deviating
  • intransitive verb To incline in opinion or desire; to conform in conduct; -- with to, toward, etc.
  • intransitive verb To rest or rely, for support, comfort, and the like; -- with on, upon, or against.
  • transitive verb obsolete To conceal.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective of a person slim; not fleshy.

Etymologies

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

[Middle English lene, from Old English hlǣne.]

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

[Middle English lenen, from Old English hleonian; see klei- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English lene ("lean"), from Old English hlǣne ("lean"), perhaps from Old English hlǣnan ("to cause to lean", in the sense of "to cause to bend or lean due to hunger or lack of food"), from Proto-Germanic *hlainijanan (“to cause to lean”). If so, then related to Old English hlinian, hleonian ("to lean").

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English lenen ("to lean"), from Old English hleonian, hlinian ("to lean, recline, lie down, rest"), from Proto-Germanic *hlinōnan (“to lean, incline”), from Proto-Indo-European *ḱley-. Cognate via Proto-Germanic with Middle Dutch lenen ("to lean"), German lehnen ("to lean"); via Proto-Indo-European with climate, cline.

Examples

  • I use the word lean to get runners to engage the assistance of gravity by falling forward with the full length of their body.

    ChiRunning

  • Like cave dwellers huddled around a fire, the nighthawks of the title lean into the counter of a late-night diner for safety.

    Archive 2007-09-01

  • Like cave dwellers huddled around a fire, the nighthawks of the title lean into the counter of a late-night diner for safety.

    On the ...

  • With funding from the state and federal government, and from fees charged to clients, it advises Carolina furniture manufacturers, pharmaceutical and medical firms, and other companies how to achieve what it calls lean manufacturing.

    Extensions Spread 'Lean' Business Ideas

  • With funding from the state and federal government, and from fees charged to clients, it advises Carolina furniture manufacturers, pharmaceutical and medical firms, and other companies how to achieve what it calls lean manufacturing.

    Extensions Spread 'Lean' Business Ideas

  • At the train depot in Tutwiler, Miss., in 1903, the "Father of the Blues," W.C. Handy, came to the music when he encountered what he described as a lean, loose-jointed, guitar plucker, an old man with a silvery, crying voice singing "going where the Southern cross de dog" while running a knife blade over strings as he repeated the line three times.

    When Bad Times Make Good Art

  • But because Michigan is now seven points ahead for Barack Obama in these latest polls, we are going to change that on our electoral map to what we call lean Democratic.

    CNN Transcript Sep 26, 2008

  • So, it's indicating that while that still is in what we call the lean Republican category, the margins much narrower this year than they were back in 2004.

    CNN Transcript Sep 18, 2008

  • The Japanese were developing an entirely new way of making things, which we call lean production.

    The Machine That Changed the World

  • The Japanese were developing an entirely new way of making things, which we call lean production.

    The Machine That Changed the World

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