Leaned or leant

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To lean is to slope or be diagonal from the ground. Someone or someone can lean on something else for support. An alternative is to put pressure on an object by leaning on it.

The progressive form is leaning. The past tense and past participle make the form leaned. Lean belongs to a list of irregular verbs which have a past tense option which adds –instead of -ed. Learnt, leapt, dreamt, crept, dealt, dwelt, lent, rent, smelt, spelt, spilt, spoilt, and bereft are also included in this group. For some of these words the -ed version is more common (e.g. smelled), and for others the -t is the only correct choice (e.g., lent).

For leant, it is more popular outside of the United States, especially in Britain. That said, worldwide leaned is used ten times as much as leant. Looking forward, we think leant will slowly fade in usage.

It should be noted that another definition of lean is to be without fat.


The grille was waist-high, and when Bernadette appeared she would lean across it for a moment and envelope us in her scratchy, carbolic-scented habit for a hug before we sat down to chat. [The Guardian]

MacLeod said she was loving the new-look Rangers, despite originally expecting to have more senior players to lean on for her return to elite basketball. [Sydney Morning Herald]

The unidentified man was doing work at the sanctuary on Mack Dairy Road west of Florida’s Turnpike when he leaned against a fence and was bitten, said Amanda Phillips, spokeswoman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. [Palm Beach Post]

On some stretches, men leant on their forks to watch us pass. [The Telegraph]

When Singapore decided to invest heavily in the wealth management industry at the turn of the millennium, the government modelled itself on Switzerland and leant on UBS for know-how and support to set up the infrastructure and laws to make it work. [Swiss Info]

These high-intensity moves are designed to burn fat, build lean muscle and get you the results you’ve been looking for. [Huffington Post]

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