nar·​ra·​tive | \ ˈner-ə-tiv How to pronounce narrative (audio) , ˈna-rə- \

Definition of narrative

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : something that is narrated : story, account He is writing a detailed narrative of his life on the island.
b : a way of presenting or understanding a situation or series of events that reflects and promotes a particular point of view or set of values The rise of the Tea Party and the weakness of the Obama economy have fueled a Republican narrative about Big Government as a threat to liberty …— Michael Grunwald The media narrative around Kelly's appointment had two central ideas … : He would calm and professionalize the White House, and he would provide a more measured leadership style than his boss.— Perry Bacon Jr.
2 : the art or practice of narration … depended not on narrative but on intensity derived from the verity to make the book jump.— Stanley Kauffmann
3 : the representation in art of an event or story also : an example of such a representation the narrative of St. Joan of Arc



Definition of narrative (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : having the form of a story or representing a story a narrative poem narrative paintings
2 : of or relating to the process of telling a story the author's narrative style the novel's narrative structure

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Other Words from narrative


narratively adverb

Examples of narrative in a Sentence

Noun He is writing a detailed narrative of his life on the island. People have questioned the accuracy of his narrative.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But the current narrative of strong, stable, sustainable Chinese growth is gaining big traction in the investor community. Kevin Warsh, WSJ, "Beijing’s Bid for Financial Supremacy," 4 Jan. 2021 Official Chinese accounts pushed a new narrative of the outbreak, describing prompt, seamless coordination between Wuhan and Beijing. New York Times, "25 Days That Changed the World: How Covid-19 Slipped China’s Grasp," 1 Jan. 2021 To the contrary, General Austin was Centcom’s commander when the Obama-era military brass notoriously fluffed up intelligence reports to support the administration’s political narrative of counterterrorism success. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, "The Lloyd Austin Conundrum," 26 Dec. 2020 The narrative of California’s decline almost writes itself. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, "Column: California isn’t ‘hemorrhaging’ people, but there are reasons for concern," 24 Dec. 2020 Blitzfits is not just a logo or a fashion page, but a brand dedicated to showcasing athletes who are changing the narrative of football, fashion, and more. Nandi Howard, Essence, "Meet The Curator Behind The Instagram Handle @Blitzfits," 22 Dec. 2020 The judgment had the effect of backing the government’s narrative of the protests last year, painting the demonstrations as out of control mobs that had to be controlled by all means. Washington Post, "Hong Kong’s highest court upholds ban on masks at protests," 21 Dec. 2020 Yes, and that goes back to how Sally talks about the narrative of intimate content in Normal People. Ruth Kinane,, "Best of 2020 (Behind the Scenes): How Normal People's intimacy coordinator made those sex scenes so sexy," 21 Dec. 2020 The narrative of the Big Ten season has been focused on Ohio State. Usa Today Sports, USA TODAY, "Bold predictions for Week 16 in college football," 20 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The dominant Covid narrative justifies lockdowns, social isolation, mask-wearing at all times, and even snitching on friends and colleagues, destroying community by reducing every other person to a potential virus vector. WSJ, "Seeing Red in America’s Totalitarian Habits," 28 Dec. 2020 Thanks to Stothard’s narrative skill, readers get a visceral sense of the jittery, clammy life Parmensis must have led in Athens, one ear cocked to every rumor from Rome, constantly suspicious of every new face. Steve Donoghue, The Christian Science Monitor, "‘The Last Assassin’ breathes life into the events of Julius Caesar’s death," 23 Dec. 2020 Unfortunately, that connection is sacrificed to the time spent aboard the Aether — a narrative imperative essential for the movie to reach its maddeningly contrived ending. Kevin Crust, Los Angeles Times, "Review: In ‘The Midnight Sky,’ a grizzled George Clooney considers the end of the world," 22 Dec. 2020 Kudos to developer The Dairymen for tackling the classic parable, but a narrative focus means that players suffer the same lack of freedom as the game's characters. Yussef Cole, Wired, "Orwell's Animal Farm Sticks a Bit Too Close to the Source Material," 16 Dec. 2020 The narrative piles crisis upon crisis, from a fat fire in the observatory kitchen to spectacular repair efforts in space and a startling sequence that involves droplets of blood. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, "‘The Midnight Sky’ Review: Reaching Out in the Void," 10 Dec. 2020 The museum will house Lucas’ collection of digital, traditional and narrative art. Kim Quillen,, "Who is Mellody Hobson? The next board chair of Starbucks has deep connections to Chicago, and ‘Star Wars.’," 9 Dec. 2020 But that narrative changes for the worse if the GOP loses in Georgia after Mr. Trump divided his own party to serve his personal political interest. NBC News, "Meet the Press - December 6, 2020," 6 Dec. 2020 His first work also had the overtones of a horror film and the narrative meat of a serious family drama, exploring the fraught relationship between four sisters after one of them is freed from a Manson-family-like collective. David Sims, The Atlantic, "The Nest Is a Haunted-House Movie Without Ghosts," 27 Nov. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'narrative.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of narrative


1567, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for narrative

Time Traveler

The first known use of narrative was in the 15th century

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Statistics for narrative

Last Updated

14 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Narrative.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for narrative


How to pronounce narrative (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of narrative

 (Entry 1 of 2)

formal : a story that is told or written



English Language Learners Definition of narrative (Entry 2 of 2)

: of or relating to the process of telling a story
: having the form of a story


nar·​ra·​tive | \ ˈner-ə-tiv How to pronounce narrative (audio) \

Kids Definition of narrative

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: something (as a story) that is told in full detail



Kids Definition of narrative (Entry 2 of 2)

: having the form of a story a narrative poem

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