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[langk] /læŋk/
adjective, lanker, lankest.
(of plants) unduly long and slender:
lank grass; lank, leafless trees.
(of hair) straight and limp; without spring or curl.
lean; gaunt; thin.
Origin of lank
before 1000; Middle English lanc, Old English hlanc; akin to Old High German hlanca loin, side. Cf. flank
Related forms
lankly, adverb
lankness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for lank
Historical Examples
  • The lank man leaned forward and whispered some remonstrance in the ear of the young fellow, but his suggestion was waved aside.

    Oh, You Tex! William Macleod Raine
  • He had gone to a barber, and his lank hair had been artistically curled.

    Caught In The Net Emile Gaboriau
  • Charlie was indicating a lank stranger who was leaning on the bar, and talking to a dozen men who had gathered about him.

    The Road Builders Samuel Merwin
  • The chair was eased to its four legs, and the lank form appeared in the doorway.

    The Gold Girl James B. Hendryx
  • She was a lank, bare-ribbed, high-boned animal, long-eared like all of her race—for she belonged to the race of Rosinante.

    The War Trail Mayne Reid
  • We knew whose was the lean, lank figure, fitfully revealed, which held it.

    A Sheaf of Corn Mary E. Mann
  • Then Jerome's lank outlines would begin to take on curves and the hungry look would disappear from his face.

    Jerome, A Poor Man Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
  • Perhaps the good Samaritan was lean and lank, and found it hard to live.

  • Our visitor was a lank mortal in flannel shirt, blue cotton overalls, and the ordinary white felt hat of the country.

  • Sim cowered in a corner of the box, with his lank fingers in his long hair.

British Dictionary definitions for lank


long and limp
thin or gaunt
Derived Forms
lankly, adverb
lankness, noun
Word Origin
Old English hlanc loose


adjective, adverb
(South African, informal) a lot; a great deal
Word Origin
perhaps from Afrikaans lank long
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for lank

Old English hlanc "loose and empty, slender, flaccid," from Proto-Germanic *khlankaz, perhaps from a root meaning "flexible" (cf. German lenken "to bend, turn aside," Old Norse hlykkr "bend, noose, loop"), from PIE root *kleng- "to bend, turn" (see link (n.)). "Some examples may be long adj. with unvoicing of g" ["Middle English Dictionary"]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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