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 Under these conditions, Pink has not been able to stage the full-length narrative ballets that he is known for. Jim Higgins, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 4 June 2021 These movies also cover much of the story arc between Amuro Ray and Char Aznable, which comprises the narrative backbone for most of the Universal Century timeline. Ollie Barder, Forbes, 4 June 2021 While King’s narrative romanticizes the relationship between mental illness and creativity, Larraín’s histrionic direction often reduces these elements to camp. Judy Berman, Time, 4 June 2021 Indeed, the gemstone is as much a character in Mr. Combs’s narrative as his human protagonists. Tom Nagorski, WSJ, 4 June 2021 The narrative feature will anchor a larger content package developed by Haddish and studio game1 that will include a tandem documentary series and podcast. Christi Carras, Los Angeles Times, 4 June 2021 While this puzzling narrative departure might baffle some, no one will be able to dispute the film’s consistent commitment to exquisite craftsmanship in the costuming department. Tomris Laffly, Vulture, 4 June 2021 With or without us, the Mid-Atlantic’s suspenseful geological narrative will continue. Washington Post, 4 June 2021 The very fact that this historical moment had been all but forgotten became an urgent throughline in the film’s narrative. Jonathan Bernstein, Rolling Stone, 1 June 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective According to a narrative report filed last week in federal court, Willis was knocked off his motorcycle, dragged about 6 feet and feared Locke would run over him. Eric Fleischauer The Decatur Daily, al, 4 June 2021 Not everyone has been overjoyed by this narrative shift. Peniel E. Joseph, CNN, 3 June 2021 As a lyricist, Ms. Zauner walks a line between narrative clarity and poetic suggestion. Mark Richardson, WSJ, 2 June 2021 So many series become so intent on pulling off a shocking reveal that the final episode can feel more like a narrative magic trick than an actual resolution to the events that preceded it. Meredith Blake, Los Angeles Times, 30 May 2021 Yet much of its narrative power stems from its being set in an unnamed city in an unnamed country, featuring characters without last names. Madeleine Schwartz, The New York Review of Books, 25 May 2021 At times, color was also a way for Eselin to gently mislead the audience for narrative purposes. Tomris Laffly, Vulture, 25 May 2021 What’s more, its narrative structure includes no signposts—the film offers viewers an unmarked journey into undiscovered country and, then, only midway through, maps out the landscape, distinguishing authentic settings from Potemkin villages. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 24 May 2021 The movie is overlong, in the Netflix pattern that encourages string-along, TV-style sequences rather than narrative coherence, but the anxiety in Army of the Dead feels real. Armond White, National Review, 14 May 2021

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

7 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Narrative.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for narrative



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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