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

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 One of Maraniss’ challenges is to keep up narrative momentum through this period. Los Angeles Times, 4 Aug. 2022 The nearly narcotic experience of immersion in the book’s sensory and emotional world is achieved in part through Holleran’s narrative sleight of hand. Alan Hollinghurst, The New York Review of Books, 3 Aug. 2022 The status quo, abundance-of-caution, stay-scared narrative is still reverberating through media and expert commentary. Steven Phillips, Scientific American, 3 Aug. 2022 This narrative has elements of truth, but things aren’t that simple. Michael Schuman, The Atlantic, 3 Aug. 2022 In December 2020, Clark filed a lawsuit alleging that a class in Nevada taught to her son, which included the oppressor/oppressed narrative, violated his constitutional free speech and due process rights. Hannah Grossman, Fox News, 3 Aug. 2022 This theme, combined with the entertaining espionage narrative that can be enjoyed by everyone regardless of nationality, also contributed to the success of the anime’s opener. Billboard Japan, Billboard, 3 Aug. 2022 However, Covid and demand for fresh HBO Max content returned the Snyder fanbase to the center of the DC narrative. Scott Mendelson, Forbes, 3 Aug. 2022 Actually, two moments that brought together close to a decade of superhero narrative. Sophie Hanson, Harper's BAZAAR, 3 Aug. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective To weaken prejudice, a counter-narrative is necessary. Caterina Bulgarella, Forbes, 24 June 2022 That loss of narrative drive aside, there’s much pleasure to be had alongside the food for thought. Bob Verini, Variety, 6 June 2022 Morris and his team have been circulating provocative slides that tease a coming counter-narrative to political attacks against the president's son. Jim Axelrod, CBS News, 18 May 2022 The humdrum nature of predictable presentations have no narrative power. John Shaw, Quartz, 20 Sep. 2021 Its central motor and primary technology is narrative: oral stories, transmitted and made collective, power our way forward. K. Austin Collins, Rolling Stone, 15 June 2022 In an attempt to bring order to a mountain of information and to create a narrative arc that can hold the public’s attention, the committee turned to the storytelling devices of film and television. Robin Givhan, Washington Post, 14 June 2022 But the episode nonetheless raises questions about how Obi-Wan Kenobi fits into the larger story, and illuminates the difficulty, for the writers, of negotiating an ever-expanding narrative universe without compromising the material that exists. Grace Segers, The New Republic, 14 June 2022 In a sense, the TV show's talking heads are much closer to the narrative style of the book. Emily Burack, Town & Country, 13 May 2022 See More

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.

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

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

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Dictionary Entries Near narrative



narrative past

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Statistics for narrative

Last Updated

6 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Narrative.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for narrative


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

More from Merriam-Webster on narrative

Nglish: Translation of narrative for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of narrative for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about narrative


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