verb Chiefly British.

a past participle and simple past tense of lean1.



verb (used without object), leaned or (especially British) leant; lean·ing.

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.

verb (used with object), leaned or (especially British) leant; lean·ing.

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.

Verb Phrases

lean in,
  1. to shift one's body weight forward or toward someone or something: He stood near home plate and leaned in for the pitch.
  2. 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.
  1. 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.
  2. to criticize, reprimand, or punish: I would have enjoyed school more if the teachers hadn't leaned on me so much.

Origin of lean

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

Related Words for leant

incline, veer, drift, nod, tilt, recline, tip, slant, prop, twist, bow, cock, prefer, tend, slope, curve, pitch, sag, rest, cant

Examples from the Web for leant

Contemporary Examples of leant

  • It has now leant its name to a shadowy cabal known within the German meat-processing industry as the Atlantic group.

  • Almost 50 nations signed on to the so-called “coalition of the willing” and leant at least some small degree of support.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Coalition of the Unwilling

    Christopher Dickey

    September 7, 2013

  • While many of these may have allowed Salt to blend in, they also leant a certain fashion cred to her style.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Salt's Spy Style

    Stephanie LaCava

    July 23, 2010

  • The Biennale is always quite intense and feverish, but that heat leant an extra intensity, leant a few extra degrees to the fever.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Ghost of Biennales Past

    Taylor Antrim

    June 2, 2009

Historical Examples of leant

  • He leant forward and brought his puzzled gaze to bear upon her.

  • He leant across the table and took hold of one of Maggie's hands.

    The Foolish Lovers

    St. John G. Ervine

  • He leaped up and ran to the top of the stairs and leant over the banisters.

    The Foolish Lovers

    St. John G. Ervine

  • She peered out of the window, and then leant her head through the opening.

    The Foolish Lovers

    St. John G. Ervine

  • She leant out of the window as if she were trying to see him more closely.

    The Foolish Lovers

    St. John G. Ervine

British Dictionary definitions for leant



a past tense and past participle of lean 1



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)



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




(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
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 leant



"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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper