The questions is self-explanatory. I've actually seen "lean on door" to be more frequently used, but I've also heard the latter form.

Is there a difference between these two forms?

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    I don't think they have any meaningful difference; if you want to spend time mulling it, on simply indicates placement, whereas against has a stronger element of force, but the end result is the same. – Dan Bron Mar 21 '16 at 13:05
  • Either is fine. You may find that sometimes one seems a better fit, sometimes the other. "Lean against" is a bit more precise and less apt to raise the hackles of a nit-picker, though. – Hot Licks Mar 21 '16 at 13:05
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    "Lean on door" is missing an article (see ngram for support). Likewise with "lean against door". "Lean on the door" would be equivalent to "lean against the door". – Lawrence Mar 21 '16 at 13:50

lean against (transitive lean) =stack, position.

leaning the pictures against the door to see them better.
slammed the door shut and leant /leaned his back against it.
cf leaned the ladder against the wall (free dictionary)

lean on =use force against

leant on the door until it opened
he had to lean on the door to get it to shut properly.

There is considerable overlap in usage, but 'lean something on the door' is not found.


As you can see from this link the meaning is the same and they can be used interchangeably to refer to a physical posture.

I think the real difference is that lean on can be used also figuratively in the sense of " having as moral support":

  • Everybody needs someone to lean on in times of trouble.

Referring to the two sentences you are suggesting: lean against vs on the door, according to Google Books lean against is more common.

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