Idioms

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

Origin of lean

1
before 900; Middle English lenen, Old English hleonian, hlinian; cognate with G. lehnen; akin to Latin clīnāre to incline, Greek klī́nein
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019


British Dictionary definitions for lean on

lean on

verb (intr, preposition)

Also: lean upon to depend on for advice, support, etc
informal to exert pressure on (someone), as by threats or intimidation

Lean

noun

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)

lean

1

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

noun

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

lean

2

adjective

(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

noun

the part of meat that contains little or no fat
Derived Formsleanly, adverbleanness, noun

Word Origin for lean

Old English hlǣne, of Germanic origin
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

Word Origin and History for lean on

lean

n.

"action or state of leaning," 1776, from lean (v.).

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.

lean

adj.

"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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with lean on

lean on

1

Rely on, depend on, as in He's leaning on me for help. [Mid-1400s]

2

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]

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.