American English

Definition of lean adjective from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



    (leaner, leanest)
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  1. 1(usually approving) (of people, especially men, or animals) without much flesh; thin and fit a lean, muscular body He was tall, lean, and handsome.
  2. 2(of meat) containing little or no fat a lean, tender piece of beef
  3. 3[usually before noun] (of a period of time) difficult and not producing much money, food, etc. a lean period The company recovered well after going through several lean years. This is the leanest time of the year for the tourist industry. Many animals have a lean time of it in winter.
  4. 4(of organizations, etc.) strong and efficient because the number of employees has been reduced The changes made the company leaner and more competitive.
  5. NAmE//ˈlinnəs//
    noun [uncountable] The dark clothes emphasized the leanness of her body.
  6. Idioms
    lean and mean
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    efficient and using resources well with little waste a lean and mean organization
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: lean