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nar·​ra·​tive ˈner-ə-tiv How to pronounce narrative (audio)
: something that is narrated : story, account
He is writing a detailed narrative of his life on the island.
: 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.
: the art or practice of narration
… depended not on narrative but on intensity derived from the verity to make the book jump.Stanley Kauffmann
: the representation in art of an event or story
also : an example of such a representation
the narrative of St. Joan of Arc
narratively adverb


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

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
For at least the first hour, series writer Steven Knight (Peaky Blinders, FX’s A Christmas Carol) maintains the book’s two parallel narratives, which go backward and forward in time culminating in the battle of Saint-Malo in August of 1944. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 10 Sep. 2023 Each of her documentaries has a unique narrative, distinct from the previous ones. Tish Weinstock, Vogue, 10 Sep. 2023 One thing to talk about… Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner are not about to let any of us dictate the narrative of their split. Lisa Respers France, CNN, 9 Sep. 2023 Editorial footnotes further break up the narrative spell. Michael Dirda, Washington Post, 8 Sep. 2023 Superstition also hangs heavy in this compelling narrative. Longreads, 8 Sep. 2023 For me, the problem with fashion images during the last years has been the narrative. Laird Borrelli-Persson, Vogue, 29 Aug. 2023 Either way, those structures bookmark the narrative, which creates a lot of malleability for the questions asked in between. Willing Davidson, The New Yorker, 29 Aug. 2023 Trump’s campaign spread a false narrative that two Black Fulton County election workers — Ruby Freeman and her adult daughter Shaye Moss — had been key to the fraud. Camila Dechalus, Washington Post, 28 Aug. 2023
Beau Flynn tells The Hollywood Reporter that he got involved with the project back in January, shortly after the Bills-Bengals game, and was proud to make this his company’s first foray into nonfiction filmmaking after such narrative movies as 2021’s Jungle Cruise and Red Notice. Ryan Gajewski, The Hollywood Reporter, 11 Sep. 2023 Beyond the lackluster visuals, the movie is a narrative disappointment too, with an extended middle act that never matures into a finale, leaving backstories, relationships, and questions unresolved by the time the credits roll. Matt Kamen, WIRED, 7 Sep. 2023 Having premiered to acclaim – Variety called it Wenders’ best narrative film for decades – and a prize for lead actor Yakusho Koji, in Cannes the film is a logical choice for the Japanese festival. Patrick Frater, Variety, 29 Aug. 2023 The inspirational and thrilling film marks the narrative directorial debut of Academy Award-winning documentary filmmakers Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin (Free Solo, The Rescue). Michaela Zee, Variety, 30 Aug. 2023 This makes some narrative sense: Pimentel is now a king not only in the pizza world but also in the worlds of fashion and art. Helen Rosner, The New Yorker, 27 Aug. 2023 The attempt to make the illicit legal against its own definition, by redefining it in more acceptable terms, is narrative violence. A.d. Carson, Spin, 26 Aug. 2023 The Elephant 6 Recording Co. may be as wide-ranging and impressionistic as its namesake, but the film wrestles with the need for a narrative focus. Marc Hogan, Pitchfork, 25 Aug. 2023 The podcast has also received additional accolades in 2023, including a first place award for best narrative podcast from the Society for Features Journalism. Los Angeles Times, 23 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'narrative.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


1567, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near narrative

Cite this Entry

“Narrative.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


nar·​ra·​tive ˈnar-ət-iv How to pronounce narrative (audio)
: something (as a story) that is told or written
: the art or practice of telling stories
narrative adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on narrative

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