To lean is to shift the weight of a thing or a person onto something else. Instead of standing up straight, a person who leans moves to the left or the right, forwards or backwards.

simplepastpast participle


  • The Tower of Pisa leans a little to one side.
  • Many people refer to it as the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
tower of pisa
  • The man leaned forward and made a short speech.
man leaning forward
  • She leaned her elbow on the railing and looked down at the people below.
woman leaning
  • He’s leaning against the wall.
leaning man

The meaning of this word can change depending on the situation.

  • Lucia’s boss is leaning on her to accept his new idea. (He is pressuring her to agree to something.)
  • Bob leans on his wife and depends on her support. (She helps him.)
  • The Democratic Party in the United States leans to the left. (On the political spectrum, it tends to be more liberal)
  • The Republican Party leans to the right. (The party tends to be more conservative.)
  • We’re leaning towards moving our business to a new location. (We’re generally in favor of this idea.)

When the word "lean" is used as an adjective, it describes an amount of fat. To be lean is to be healthy or there’s a healthy amount of fat.

  • This package says the meat is 90% lean.
  • Breast meat from a chicken is usually very lean.
  • Lean young men and women go to the beach to soak up the sun and relax.


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May 27, 2015