Lean vs. Lien

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Lean and lien are two words that are pronounced in the same manner, but are spelled differently and have different meanings. They are homophones. We will examine the differing definitions of lean and lien, where these two words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Lean may be used as a verb to mean to slope or incline in a certain direction, or to rest upon someone or something. Lean is used in a metaphorical sense to mean to depend upon someone for emotional support. Related words are leans, leaned, leaning. Lean is used as a noun to mean an inclination. Lean may be used as an adjective to mean something or someone with little or no fat. Lean may also be used as an adjective to describe something meager or something that is streamlined and efficient. The word lean is derived from the Old English word hlinian, meaning incline, and the Old English word hlǣne, meaning thin.

A lien is a legal claim that someone has to property someone else owns, until they are paid a debt owed to them by the property owner. The plural form is liens. The word lien is derived from the Latin word ligare meaning to bind or to tie.


Veltrop found an extra gear, using a lean at the finish line to edge the Ladue runner for a fourth-place finish and put a cap on a very productive two days for the Crusaders and the Lady Crusaders in the state track and field championships at Adkins Stadium. (The Jefferson City News Tribune)

Antonio Banderas, 57, displays his lean figure in sporty attire as he joins his stunning girlfriend Nicole Kimpel, 37, during South of France break (The Daily Mail)

The Denison City Council voted unanimously to place a $81,903 lien against the former Central Ward School property during its meeting Monday. (The Sherman Denison Herald Democrat)

A second subcontractor involved in the construction of AGRiMED Industries marijuana growing facility in Cumberland Township has filed a mechanic’s lien with the Greene County Court seeking $63,756 in payments for work it completed on the project. (The Observer-Reporter)

Enjoyed reading about these homophones? Check out another one we covered: