nar·​row | \ ˈner-(ˌ)ō How to pronounce narrow (audio) , ˈna-(ˌ)rō\

Definition of narrow

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : of slender width a long and narrow room
b : of less than standard or usual width a narrow sidewalk
c of a textile : woven in widths usually less than 18 inches (46 centimeters)
2 : limited in size or scope a narrow interpretation
3a : illiberal (see illiberal sense d) in views or disposition : prejudiced the days of cold hearts and narrow minds— T. B. Macaulay
b chiefly dialectal : stingy, niggardly
4a : barely sufficient : close won by a narrow margin
b : barely successful a narrow escape
5 : minutely precise : meticulous a narrow inspection
6 of an animal ration : relatively rich in protein as compared with carbohydrate and fat


narrowed; narrowing; narrows

Definition of narrow (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to decrease the breadth or extent of : contract often used with down
2 : to decrease the scope or sphere of : limit often used with down narrow down the choices

intransitive verb

: to lessen in width or extent : contract often used with down



Definition of narrow (Entry 3 of 3)

: a narrow part or passage specifically : a strait connecting two bodies of water usually used in pl. but singular or plural in construction

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Other Words from narrow


narrowly adverb
narrowness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for narrow

Synonyms: Adjective

fine, hairline, needlelike, paper-thin, skinny, slender, slim, slim-jim, thin, ultrathin

Antonyms: Adjective

broad, fat, wide

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Examples of narrow in a Sentence


The city's ancient streets are too narrow for buses. We crossed at the narrowest part of the river. His shoulders are very narrow. within the narrow limits allowed by law They offer a narrow range of flavors: chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla. the study's narrow focus on 30-year-old men The study was narrow in scope. a narrow view of politics


The path was narrowed by overgrowth. His eyes narrowed as he focused on the words in front of him. The vase narrows at its top. narrowing the range of options You'll need to narrow the focus of your paper to one central idea. The gap between their salaries was beginning to narrow.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Lift systems originate in obscure turn-offs from narrow mountain passes. Amy Tara Koch, Vogue, "The Slopes Less Taken: Going on a Ski Safari in the Dolomites," 7 Mar. 2019 Veneers can fix a number of dental issues including chipping, staining, old restorations and fillings, an uneven or narrow smile, spacing problems, crowding, a poor bite and even internal staining from antibiotics or fluorosis. Roxanne Adamiyatt, Town & Country, "What to Consider Before Getting Veneers on Your Teeth," 28 Feb. 2019 The home featured in the film sits on a quiet narrow street. Berenice Bautista, The Seattle Times, "Mexico City neighborhood celebrates “Roma” nominations," 22 Jan. 2019 The airy home sits on a long and narrow plot of land, which gives it the feel of a modern railroad house. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Modern tropical house uses pool and facade for climate control," 19 Oct. 2018 Clearly, this career path that once seemed so narrow and inhospitable to us is a real option now. Susanna Fogel, Glamour, "The Spy Who Dumped Me," 3 Aug. 2018 Prime Minister David Cameron had been consolidating power, winning a narrow but clear majority in the House of Commons in the general election of 2015. Arthur I. Cyr, Lake County News-Sun, "Cyr: Britain’s prime minister takes charge of cabinet," 13 July 2018 During the second semi-final, England were found out during the second half, as well as in extra time, when Croatia pressed harder and exploited England's tired and narrow midfield with much of their attacking play coming down the right-hand side., "Croatia Defender Sime Vrsaljko Slams 'Long Ball' England After Semi-Final Clash," 12 July 2018 The first, narrow one is that the number of Democrats (including independents who caucus with the party) and pro-choice Republicans in the Senate adds up to 51. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "Brett Kavanaugh’s Qualifications Don’t Matter," 10 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Getty ImagesCraig Sjodin Colton Underwood is beginning to narrow down his selection of bachelorettes on the 23rd season of The Bachelor, although the virgin jokes/references show no sign of fading. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "Who is 'Bachelor' Contestant Cassie Randolph?," 16 Jan. 2019 Now, the agencies have been able to narrow down the outbreak to romaine lettuce grown in the Central Coast region of northern and central California. Brian Resnick, Vox, "Food safety detectives are zeroing in on source of romaine lettuce E. Coli outbreak," 27 Nov. 2018 One of the biggest jams on the Clearwater occurs each year at Big Riffle, about halfway down, where the river narrows between rocky banks. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "The Lost Art of Floating Logs Down the River," 16 Feb. 2019 Back at the drawing board, options widened to 10 and then narrowed back to two by December 2008: a surface and transit plan, and an elevated highway. Michelle Baruchman, The Seattle Times, "A look back at the Alaskan Way Viaduct as its demise — and the new Highway 99 tunnel — draw near," 7 Jan. 2019 The 11 remaining artists performed in the Live Shows on Monday night ahead of Tuesday's elimination episode, which will narrow down the roster of talented hopefuls to the final 10. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "'The Voice' Coach Kelly Clarkson Addresses the Comeback Stage Controversy," 27 Nov. 2018 Season 15 of The Voice is officially over after the pool of talented contestants was narrowed down to just one winner: Chevel Shepherd. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "When Does 'The Voice' Come Back on TV?," 22 Dec. 2018 But the immediate differences that separate a 2019 Nissan Altima from, say, a 1918 Franklin Model B Touring can be narrowed down to these ten innovations. Blake Z. Rong, Popular Mechanics, "10 Innovations That Made the Modern Car," 4 Dec. 2018 Affirmative action was further narrowed in other decisions. P.r. Lockhart, Vox, "The lawsuit against Harvard that could change affirmative action in college admissions, explained," 18 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The Steyers’ home sits on a bluff overlooking the narrows known as the Golden Gate, the traditional point of entry to San Francisco, a gilded city named for a saint who venerated poverty. Rob Haskell, Vogue, "Billionaire Democrat Tom Steyer on Impeaching Trump, Getting Out the Vote, and Winning in 2020," 14 Nov. 2018 The divers, three Navy SEALS, and a doctor, brought the boys up from the perilous depths two at a time, working through the cavern's narrows turns and murky water with precision. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "All 12 Thai Boys Rescued From Cave," 10 July 2018 The mouth of the narrows, the flats on the east side from the mouth up past the ranch house north and from the ranch house to the island in the afternoon when the fish are over deep water. sacbee, "Fishing line: Sacramento River sees plenty of stripers and shad | The Sacramento Bee," 30 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'narrow.' 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 narrow


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


13th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for narrow

Adjective, Verb, and Noun

Middle English narowe, from Old English nearu; akin to Old High German narwa scar

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Statistics for narrow

Last Updated

11 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for narrow

The first known use of narrow was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for narrow



English Language Learners Definition of narrow

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: long and not wide : small from one side to the other side
: including or involving a small number of things or people : limited in range or amount
: almost not successful : very close to failure : almost not enough for success



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

: to make (something) less wide
: to become less wide
: to make (something) smaller in amount or range


nar·​row | \ ˈner-ō How to pronounce narrow (audio) \
narrower; narrowest

Kids Definition of narrow

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : of slender or less than usual width …Kino ran straight to the narrow dock where the fishing boats bobbed up and down…— Pearl S. Buck, The Big Wave
2 : limited in size or extent We had a narrow range of choices.
3 : not broad or open in mind or views They are narrow in their thinking.
4 : barely successful : close We made a narrow escape.

Other Words from narrow

narrowly adverb
narrowness noun


narrowed; narrowing

Kids Definition of narrow (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : to make or become less wide … his yellow eyes narrowed to slits.— Scott O'Dell, Island of the Blue Dolphins
2 : to limit in number : become fewer The list of candidates has been narrowed to ten.



Kids Definition of narrow (Entry 3 of 3)

: a narrow passage connecting two bodies of water usually used in pl.

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More from Merriam-Webster on narrow

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with narrow

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for narrow

Spanish Central: Translation of narrow

Nglish: Translation of narrow for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of narrow for Arabic Speakers

Comments on narrow

What made you want to look up narrow? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the range of authority or knowledge

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