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 plural 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

The ban stems in part from complaints calling the tours a nuisance that lead to congestion in the narrow canal-side streets. Teen Vogue, "Why Sex Work Is Real Work," 26 Apr. 2019 The latest data is strong: there is only a very narrow range for which the simplest model might still fit the data. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Inflation theories must dig deeper to avoid collision with data," 6 Dec. 2018 The narrow angles of the valleys bear a stronger resemblance to those found in Earth's arid landscapes, such as in the deserts of Arizona. Nola Taylor Redd,, "Geometry Helps Solve the Mystery of Mars' Water," 13 July 2018 The relatively humid lands to the east of this line experience twenty or more inches of annual rainfall, the unquestionably arid lands to the west receiving less than that, except some narrow strips on the Pacific coast. Johnforristerross, Longreads, "Taming the Great American Desert," 2 July 2018 Nearly a decade after its inception, the ways Pinterest makes money are narrow. Laura Forman, WSJ, "Pinterest Isn’t Picture Perfect Just Yet," 25 Mar. 2019 The more consistent the models are with one another, the narrower the cone can be, according to The Baltimore Sun. Madeline Farber, Fox News, "How scientists track Hurricane Florence with a 'forecast cone'," 12 Sep. 2018 And the sidewalk—which has become the flashpoint in these conversations—is already far too narrow and poorly maintained in most cities to accommodate the needs of most walkers, let alone scooter operators afraid to ride in the street. Alissa Walker, Curbed, "Don’t ban scooters. Redesign streets.," 13 July 2018 With television and social media awash with images and wails of young children torn from migrant families, Republicans want to pass a narrower measure addressing those separations should the broader bill fail. Alan Fram And Lisa Mascaro,, "Far-reaching Republican immigration bill careening toward likely House rejection," 27 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Cremo had recently narrowed his list of destinations to five schools, according to a report via Twitter from Jon Rothstein, but Villanova wasn't among those finalists. Dave Clark,, "Albany transfer Joe Cremo headed to Villanova," 8 May 2018 Since 2001, the curriculum in many elementary schools has narrowed to little more than a steady diet of reading and math. Natalie Wexler, The Atlantic, "Why American Students Haven't Gotten Better at Reading in 20 Years," 13 Apr. 2018 As Trump's list tightened, there was some internal concern that the president's options could be narrowed by the public outcry — particularly what had appeared to be mounting conservative reservations about Kavanaugh. Catherine Lucey, Zeke Miller And Ken Thomas, Houston Chronicle, "Trump weighs 2 or 3 candidates for court, to meet with Pence," 6 July 2018 Research by Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers of the University of Michigan has found that women in the 1970s reported being happier than men and that the gap has since narrowed. The Economist, "The changing world of work," 28 June 2018 Although 2016 data suggests that the gap may be narrowing, there is still a lack of gender parity. Ashley Andreou, STAT, "New Gardasil ad campaign gets it (mostly) right. It shouldn’t have taken a decade," 18 June 2018 There also was no sign that the two sides had narrowed the contradiction in their positions about what denuclearization actually means. Stephen Collinson, CNN, "What really came out of the Trump-Kim summit," 12 June 2018 Goldberg presumes that moving the rightward bound of The Atlantic’s output to the left would necessarily narrow its ideological range; Coates recognizes that this is only true if the leftward bound is kept in place. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "The Liberal Media Can Have Ideological Diversity Without Conservatives," 6 May 2018 A pool of 21 candidates to be the next superintendent of Harford County Public Schools has been narrowed to seven, and interviews with them will be scheduled soon, according to a news release from the school system. Erika Butler, The Aegis, "Harford school board to host community meetings with finalists for superintendent," 30 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Your own pulse will pound at many points during Todd Douglas Miller’s film, which opens this week exclusively in IMAX, as befits the subject, then widens, or more properly narrows, next week to conventional screens as well. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, "‘Apollo 11’ Review: Houston, We’ve Got a Classic," 28 Feb. 2019 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

20 May 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).


one that collects or salvages junk

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