Pronunciation Adjective

lank (comparative lanker, superlative lankest)

  1. Slender or thin; not well filled out; not plump; shrunken; lean.
    • c. 1600, William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act II, Scene 2,
      'Run barefoot up and down, threat’ning the flames
      With bisson rheum; a clout upon that head
      Where late the diadem stood, and for a robe,
      About her lank and all o’erteemed loins,
      A blanket, in the alarm of fear caught up;
    • 1700, Isaac Barrow, Sermon XXII “Of Industry in our particular Calling, as Scholars,” in The Works of the Learned Isaac Barrow, D.D., London: John Tillotson, 2nd edition, Volume III, p. 226,
      […] who would not chuse […] to have rather a lank purse than an empty brain […] ?
    • 1724-5, Jonathan Swift, “A Receipt. To Restore Stella’s Youth” in The Works of Jonathan Swift, London: Henry Washbourne, 1841, Volume 1, p. 687,
      Meagre and lank with fasting grown,
      And nothing left but skin and bone;
    • 1820, Washington Irving, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” in The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.,
      The cognomen of Crane was not inapplicable to his person. He was tall, but exceedingly lank, with narrow shoulders, long arms and legs, hands that dangled a mile out of his sleeves, feet that might have served for shovels, and his whole frame most loosely hung together.
    • 1895, H. G. Wells, The Time Machine, Chapter 6,
      […] while I stood in the dark, a hand touched mine, lank fingers came feeling over my face, and I was sensible of a peculiar unpleasant odour.
    • 1985, Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian, Chapter 1,
      Blacks in the fields, lank and stooped, their fingers spiderlike among the bolls of cotton.
  2. (obsolete) Meagre, paltry, scant in quantity.
    • 1659, Samuel Cradock, Knowledge & Practice, Or, A Plain Discourse of the Chief Things Necessary to be Known, Believ’d & Practised in order to Salvation, London: John Rothwell, Chapter 17, Of the Duties of the Rich, pp. 494-495,
      We should think him a very imprudent Husbandman, that to save a little seed at present, would sow so thin, as to spoil his crop. And the same folly ’twill be in us, if by the sparingness and niggardize of our Almes, we make our selves a lank Harvest hereafter, and lose the reward God hath provided for the liberal Almes-giver.
  3. (of hair) Straight and flat; thin and limp. (Often associated with being greasy.)
    • 1695, John Stevens (translator), The Portugues Asia; or, The History of the Discovery and Conquest of India by the Portugues, by Manuel de Faria e Sousa, London: C. Brome, Chapter 10, p. 291,
      The Inhabitants most simple, and treated them with great affection. Of Colour more inclined to white, of Body strong and comly, lank Hair, and long Beards, their Cloaths of very fine Mats […]
    • 1735, Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels, London: J. Bell, 1774, Volume 2, Part Four, The Country of the Houyhnhnms, Chapter 1, p. 129,
      Their heads and breasts were covered with a thick hair, some frizled, and others lank; they had beards like goats, and a long ridge of hair down their backs, and the fore-parts of their legs and feet […]
    • 1817, Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey, Chapter 1,
      She had a thin awkward figure, a sallow skin without colour, dark lank hair, and strong features—so much for her person; and not less unpropitious for heroism seemed her mind.
    • 1848, Thomas Babington Macaulay, The History of England from the Accession of James the Second, Philadelphia: E.H. Butler, 1856, Volume I, Chapter 3, p. 286,
      There were coffee houses where the first medical men might be consulted. […] There were Puritan coffee houses where no oath was heard, and where lank-haired men discussed election and reprobation through their noses.
    • 1940, Hugh Walpole, The Bright Pavilions, London: Macmillan, Part I,
      He was an exceedingly thin old man. Down from his head to his shoulders hung long, yellow, lank locks and within this enclosure was an old bony face, the forehead seamed with a thousand wrinkles.
  4. (obsolete) Languid; drooping, slack.
    • 1634, John Milton, Comus, lines 833-837,
      The water-nymphs, that in the bottom played,
      Held up their pearled wrists, and took her in,
      Bearing her straight to aged Nereus’ hall;
      Who, piteous of her woes, reared her lank head,
      And gave her to his daughters to imbathe […]
    • 1655, William Spurstowe, The Wels of Salvation Opened, London: Ralph Smith, Chapter 18, pp. 249-250,
      Let us weigh the promises of the one and of the other in the balance of truth, and we shall finde that the promises of God are gold, and the promises of the devil are Alchimy, such which though they glitter much, have no worth or excellency in them. […] God’s, are substantial realities, and his, vanishing and fleeting shadows windy and swollen bladders, which but a little prickt, do quickly fall and grow lank.
Synonyms Translations Translations Verb

lank (lanks, present participle lanking; past and past participle lanked)

  1. (rare, intransitive) To become lank.
    • c. 1606, William Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra, Act I, Scene 4,
      […] on the Alps
      It is reported thou didst eat strange flesh,
      Which some did die to look on: and all this—
      It wounds thine honour that I speak it now—
      Was borne so like a soldier, that thy cheek
      So much as lank’d not.

Proper noun
  1. Surname

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