noun, plural lean-tos.

a shack or shed supported at one side by trees or posts and having an inclined roof.
a roof of a single pitch with the higher end abutting a wall or larger building.
a structure with such a roof.

Origin of lean-to

1425–75; late Middle English; noun use of verb phrase lean to
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for lean-to

hut, shack, shanty, penthouse, addition, shed

Examples from the Web for lean-to

Historical Examples of lean-to

  • I guess I'll take my bed up there; that lean-to is awful hot.

    Good Indian

    B. M. Bower

  • Arizona galloped her up to the house and rounded the lean-to in which Joe slept.

    The Night Riders

    Ridgwell Cullum

  • And while these things were going on Arizona and Joe shared the hospitality of the lean-to.

    The Night Riders

    Ridgwell Cullum

  • With this object in view she went down-stairs and visited the lean-to.

    The Night Riders

    Ridgwell Cullum

  • Billy kept to his lean-to, when away from the government house.

    Janet of the Dunes

    Harriet T. Comstock

British Dictionary definitions for lean-to


noun plural -tos

a roof that has a single slope with its upper edge adjoining a wall or building
a shed or outbuilding with such a roof
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-to

"building whose rafters pitch against another building or wall," mid-15c., from lean (v.) + to.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper