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Idioms about lean

    lean over backward(s). bend1 (def. 21).

Origin of lean

First recorded before 900; Middle English lenen, Old English hleonian, hlinian; cognate with German lehnen; akin to Greek klī́nein, Latin -clīnāre “to incline

Other definitions for lean (2 of 3)

[ leen ]
/ lin /

adjective, lean·er, lean·est.

Origin of lean

First recorded before 1000; Middle English lene, lein(e), Old English hlǣne

synonym study for lean

1. See thin.


leanly, adverbleanness, noun

Other definitions for lean (3 of 3)

[ leen ]
/ lin /

David, 1908–91, British film director.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What else does lean mean?

Content warning: this article contains references to drug abuse.

In slang, lean is a term for prescription-strength cough syrup mixed with soft drinks and candy. It’s also known by such other names as purple drank or sizzurp.

Where does lean come from?

The term lean, and the practice of drinking it, originated in Houston, Texas, during the late 1980s and 1990s. It was first popularized by the influential producer DJ Screw, who frequently rhymed the words codeine and lean in his music, the resulting intoxication making him slump over (“lean back”). DJ Screw passed away from a codeine overdose in late 2000.

In the mid-2000s, mainstream hip-hop artists like Lil Wayne, Three 6 Mafia, and Gucci Mane helped popularize lean by rapping about the practice of mixing cough syrup and soda.

Lean is glamorized as a relaxing, even euphoria-inducing homemade beverage due to the effect of opiates present in prescription-strength cough syrup. The trend of sippin’ (on) lean has spawned countless hip-hop songs, mixtape titles, and entire album concepts.

How is lean used in real life?

Lean is known as a party beverage and has been described as part of hip-hop and youth culture. According to the lyric website Genius, lean was referenced in over 30% of all hip-hop songs that reached the Billboard Top 100 in 2017.

Rapper Lil Wayne has detailed his unhealthy relationship with lean in numerous songs, most notably in “I Feel Like Dying” from a 2007 mixtape. One music journalist described Wayne’s vivid description of codeine dependency as “torture cloaked in sheer bliss.”

Lean has been named as a cause of death for multiple prominent figures in hip-hop, including A$AP Yams, Pimp C, Big Moe, and several others.

More examples of lean:

“I sip codeine / It makes a southside player lean / Steady stackin green, steady sippin’ codeine
—DJ Screw, “Sippin Codeine” (song), 1996

“Don’t drink lean kids, don’t drink lean. I don’t think it should be a drug that’s glorified. It’s liquid heroin, it’s an opiate.”
—Danny Brown, TimWestWoodTv (YouTube), April 2014


This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.

How to use lean in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for lean (1 of 3)

/ (liːn) /

verb leans, leaning, leaned or leant
(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
See also lean on

Word Origin for lean

Old English hleonian, hlinian; related to Old High German hlinēn, Latin clīnāre to incline

British Dictionary definitions for lean (2 of 3)

/ (liːn) /

the part of meat that contains little or no fat

Derived forms of lean

leanly, adverbleanness, noun

Word Origin for lean

Old English hlǣne, of Germanic origin

British Dictionary definitions for lean (3 of 3)

/ (liːn) /

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)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012