nar·ra·tive | \ˈner-ə-tiv, 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


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

At the same time, cultural history — an interest in the everyday lives of people in the past — began to supplant the idea of a grand narrative. Amy Crawford,, "Why is history always about humans?," 13 July 2018 Sure, wise teams soak up their fair share of pressure, before pouncing - a simple narrative to attribute to this game., "Why Didier Deschamps Is Still a Problem Regardless of Leading France to the World Cup Final," 12 July 2018 Despite an ambitious premise and style, the neo-noir sci-fi indie is a fractured narrative that can’t achieve what its lofty ideas intend. Kimber Myers,, "Review: Pretentious sci-fi noir '7 Splinters in Time' overreaches," 12 July 2018 Compared to the Annapolis shooting, the Walmart incident offers a far more convenient narrative for gun-rights activists. Steve Pinkerton, Houston Chronicle, "Why Americans are fascinated by gunfighting preachers," 7 July 2018 Then, Swift slunk away from public-facing celebrations, retreating for a tidier narrative. Rebecca Farley,, "Taylor Swift Redeems Her 4th Of July Reputation," 6 July 2018 In this show, which is so often bleak and difficult, Nick’s a part of the narrative that is hopefully cathartic. Emma Dibdin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Max Minghella Talks Playing the Only Good Man in Gilead on The Handmaid's Tale," 5 July 2018 Wilder’s account, with its racist portrayal of Native Americans and sureness of the family’s right to land, is part of the narrative being overturned in the museum below. Alexandra Lange, Curbed, "Gateway to what?," 28 June 2018 What transpires is a gripping narrative that explores police brutality and how Starr uses her voice to effect change. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "The First Trailer For The Hate U Give Is Here, and It's Powerful," 25 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

And aside from the narrative aspects of this, if LeBron goes to the Rockets, his title window lasts only as long as Chris Paul's time as an elite point guard. Andrew Sharp,, "LeBron James And All His Free Agency Options," 15 June 2018 On the Yellow website, Snap lays out three areas of interest that are in line with what a lot of tech companies are putting money towards these days — augmented reality, interactive experiences on mobile, and narrative storytelling. Madeline Buxton,, "Got An Idea? You Could Get $150,000 From Snap," 23 May 2018 There's a big trans narrative missing form the Me Too movement. Brittney Mcnamara, Teen Vogue, "Munroe Bergdorf Opened Up About PTSD, Sexual Assault, and Why Transgender Women Need to Be Part of #MeToo," 21 Mar. 2018 In the hereafter, Michael sets up narrative threads, matches soul mates together, and tries to make sure everyone is happy eternally. Noah Berlatsky, Washington Post, "TV is showing us the dark side of playing God," 5 Jan. 2018 But thanks to a couple of Zidane headers and the star that’s been on the jersey ever since, that team is helping define the postgame narrative 20 years later. Brian Straus,, "Le Bleuprint: France Follows Familiar World Cup Path in Reaching Final," 10 July 2018 Journalist and novelist Tom Wolfe was one of the finest practitioners of narrative nonfiction ever to write in English. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, "Data Sheet—Remembering When Tom Wolfe Nailed Silicon Valley," 16 May 2018 Neruda’s gift is lyrical, not narrative, and his ostensible epic, on inspection, is so many lyrics in historically chronological order. Benjamin Kunkel, The New Republic, "The partisan world of Pablo Neruda," 2 July 2018 One way or another, McQuarrie spins just enough of a narrative line on which to hang the big set pieces. Todd Mccarthy, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Mission: Impossible — Fallout': Film Review," 12 July 2018

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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Statistics for narrative

Last Updated

3 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for narrative

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

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More Definitions for narrative


nar·ra·tive | \ˈner-ə-tiv \

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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Comments on narrative

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