Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “lean”

See all translations

lean

adjective
 
 
/liːn/
MANAGEMENT using fewer employees or less money in order to decrease waste, while continuing to operate effectively: Companies are downsizing, aiming to be leaner and more efficient, with demands on employees for greater productivity. With the application of lean management principles, suppliers and distributors have streamlined their processes.lean enterprise/operation/organization When it comes to costs, they pride themselves on running a lean operation.get/become leaner The pack-houses and their workers have had to become leaner. lean retailers/suppliers
if a period of time is lean, there is not enough money or business at that time: lean period/times/years Funding has been increased to some programs suffering from several years of lean budgets.
if costs, goods for sale, materials, or quantities of workers are lean, they are very low, or kept as low as possible: Cold weather across the U.S. signaled a surge in demand for natural gas products at a time when inventories are uncomfortably lean. Working quickly and cheaply, with lean staffs and even leaner budgets, contract manufacturers have long played a supporting role in the computer business.
leanness noun [U]
(Definition of lean from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
What is the pronunciation of lean?
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

Definitions of “lean” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

white Christmas

a Christmas when it snows

Word of the Day

Cleavage proves divisive in Cambridge’s words of 2014

by Alastair Horne,
December 19, 2014
​​​​ Other dictionaries may choose faddish novelties as their words of the year, but here at Cambridge, we like to do something different. We look for the words that have seen sudden surges in searches over the course of the year – words that have been baffling users of English and driven them

Read More 

cinderella surgery noun

December 15, 2014
cosmetic surgery to the feet We have all heard of people having nose jobs, boob jobs and liposuction – but now a new trend growing in popularity in America: Cinderella surgery.

Read More