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

  • intransitive v. To bend or slant away from the vertical.
  • intransitive v. To incline the weight of the body so as to be supported: leaning against the railing. See Synonyms at slant.
  • intransitive v. To rely for assistance or support: Lean on me for help.
  • intransitive v. To have a tendency or preference: a government that leans toward fascism.
  • intransitive v. Informal To exert pressure: The boss is leaning on us to meet the deadline.
  • transitive v. To set or place so as to be resting or supported.
  • transitive v. To cause to incline.
  • n. A tilt or an inclination away from the vertical.
  • adj. Not fleshy or fat; thin.
  • adj. Containing little or no fat.
  • adj. Not productive or prosperous; meager: lean years.
  • adj. Containing little excess or waste; spare: a lean budget.
  • adj. Thrifty in management; economical: "Company leaders know their industries must be lean to survive” ( Christian Science Monitor).
  • adj. Metallurgy Low in mineral contents: lean ore.
  • adj. Chemistry Metallurgy Lacking in combustible material: lean fuel.
  • n. Meat with little or no fat.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. slim; not fleshy.
  • adj. having little fat.
  • adj. Having little extra or little to spare.
  • adj. Of a fuel-air mixture, having more air than is necessary to burn all of the fuel; more air- or oxygen- rich than necessary for a stoichiometric reaction.
  • v. To thin out (a fuel-air mixture): to reduce the fuel flow into the mixture so that there is more air or oxygen.
  • v. To hang outwards.
  • v. To press against.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • n. That part of flesh which consists of muscle without fat.
  • n. Any flesh that adheres to the blubber of a whale: same as fat-lean.
  • n. Among printers, unprofitable work.
  • 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.
  • See lain.
  • n. Deviation from a vertical position; inclination.

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

  • v. to incline or bend from a vertical position
  • adj. containing little excess
  • v. rely on for support
  • n. the property possessed by a line or surface that departs from the vertical
  • v. cause to lean or incline
  • v. cause to lean to the side
  • adj. not profitable or prosperous
  • adj. lacking excess flesh
  • adj. lacking in mineral content or combustible material
  • v. have a tendency or disposition to do or be something; be inclined


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

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

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.

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").


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


  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

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

    The Machine That Changed the World

  • She comes back to the market some months later, when prices are highest, in what we call the lean season -- when food is scarce -- because she has to feed her family and has no choice.

    Eleni Gabre-Madhin on Ethiopian economics

  • The organizational mechanism for doing this is what we call the lean enterprise, a continuing conference of all the concerned parties to create a channel for the entire value stream, dredging away all the muda.

    Lean Thinking

  • On both sides of the hall, we had what we called lean-tos, the roofs of which began where the roof of the hall ended, and they sloped down to within four feet of the ground.

    Yr Ynys Unyg The Lonely Island


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