- to incline or bend from a vertical position: She leaned out the window.
- to incline, as in a particular direction; slant: The post leans to the left. The building leaned sharply before renovation.
- to incline in feeling, opinion, action, etc.: to lean toward socialism.
- to rest against or on something for support: to lean against a wall.
- to depend or rely (usually followed by on or upon): someone he could lean on in an emergency.
- to incline or bend: He leaned his head forward.
- to cause to lean or rest; prop: to lean a chair against the railing.
- the act or state of leaning; inclination: The tower has a pronounced lean.
- lean in,
- to shift one's body weight forward or toward someone or something: He stood near home plate and leaned in for the pitch.
- to embrace risk, be assertive, etc., as to achieve the greatest level of success in the workplace: She really knows how to lean in—she'll have a corner office before long.
- lean on, Informal.
- to exert influence or pressure on in order to gain cooperation, maintain discipline, or the like: The state is leaning on the company to clean up its industrial wastes.
- to criticize, reprimand, or punish: I would have enjoyed school more if the teachers hadn't leaned on me so much.
- lean over backward(s). bend1(def 21).
Origin of lean1
- Also: lean upon to depend on for advice, support, etc
- informal to exert pressure on (someone), as by threats or intimidation
- Sir David. 1908–91, English film director. His films include In Which We Serve (1942), Blithe Spirit (1945), Brief Encounter (1946), Great Expectations (1946), Oliver Twist (1948), The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Dr Zhivago (1965), and A Passage to India (1984)
- (foll by against, on, or upon) to rest or cause to rest against a support
- to incline or cause to incline from a vertical position
- (intr; foll by to or towards) to have or express a tendency or leaning
- lean over backwards informal to make a special effort, esp in order to please
- the condition of inclining from a vertical position
- (esp of a person or an animal) having no surplus flesh or bulk; not fat or plump
- not bulky or full
- (of meat) having little or no fat
- not rich, abundant, or satisfying
- (of a mixture of fuel and air) containing insufficient fuel and too much aira lean mixture
- (of printer's type) having a thin appearance
- (of a paint) containing relatively little oil
- (of an ore) not having a high mineral content
- (of concrete) made with a small amount of cement
- the part of meat that contains little or no fat
Word Origin and History for lean on
"action or state of leaning," 1776, from lean (v.).
c.1200, from Old English hleonian "to bend, recline, lie down, rest," from Proto-Germanic *khlinen (cf. Old Saxon hlinon, Old Frisian lena, Middle Dutch lenen, Dutch leunen, Old High German hlinen, German lehnen "to lean"), from PIE root *klei- "to lean, to incline" (cf. Sanskrit srayati "leans," sritah "leaning;" Old Persian cay "to lean;" Lithuanian slyti "to slope," slieti "to lean;" Latin clinare "to lean, bend," clivus "declivity," inclinare "cause to bend," declinare "bend down, turn aside;" Greek klinein "to cause to slope, slant, incline;" Old Irish cloin "crooked, wrong;" Middle Irish cle, Welsh cledd "left," literally "slanting;" Welsh go-gledd "north," literally "left" -- for similar sense evolution, see Yemen, Benjamin, southpaw).
Meaning "to incline the body against something for support" is mid-13c. Figurative sense of "to trust for support" is from early 13c. Sense of "to lean toward mentally, to favor" is from late 14c. Related: Leaned; leaning. Colloquial lean on "put pressure on" (someone) is first recorded 1960.
"thin, spare, with little flesh or fat," c.1200, from Old English hlæne "lean, thin," possibly from hlænan "cause to lean or bend," from Proto-Germanic *khlainijan, which would connect it to Old English hleonian (see lean (v.)). But perhaps rather, according to OED, from a PIE *qloinio- (cf. Lithuanian klynas "scrap, fragment," Lettish kleins "feeble"). Extended and figurative senses from early 14c. The noun meaning "lean animals or persons" is from c.1200, from the adjective.
Idioms and Phrases with lean on
Rely on, depend on, as in He's leaning on me for help. [Mid-1400s]
Exert pressure on one, especially to obtain something or make one do something against his or her will. For example, The gangsters were leaning on local storekeepers to pay them protection money. [Colloquial; mid-1900s]