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 a) 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 downnarrow 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

Antonyms: Adjective

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Examples of narrow in a Sentence

Adjective 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 Verb 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 Instead, opt for a tapered, straight-leg silhouette that’s slightly more forgiving in the thighs while still retaining a narrow and streamlined shape. Kami Phillips, CNN Underscored, "How to shop for your perfect pair of jeans online," 16 Oct. 2020 But the spike protein is not sharp, narrow or rigid. Carl Zimmer New York Times, Star Tribune, "The coronavirus unveiled: Scientists are deciphering the virus' genome with ever-detailed analysis," 15 Oct. 2020 The illicit tunnels are often as narrow as two feet and as long as 90 feet, depending on what the traffickers are trying to transport. Kevin Sieff, Anchorage Daily News, "Under the U.S.-Mexico border, miles of tunnels worth millions of dollars to traffickers," 13 Oct. 2020 The illicit tunnels are often as narrow as two feet and as long as 90 feet, depending on what the traffickers are trying to transport. Kevin Sieff, Washington Post, "Under the U.S.-Mexico border, miles of tunnels worth millions of dollars — to traffickers," 13 Oct. 2020 Indian Oil, which operates nine refineries, saw its profit tumble more than 90% in the year ended March 31 as volatility in oil and product prices led to narrow or negative margins. Debjit Chakraborty,, "Top India Refiner Betting on Plastics to Cushion Fuel Shocks," 24 Sep. 2020 Democrats plan to do everything in their limited power to stop the Senate from confirming Trump's pick, but their options are relatively narrow and benign. Susan Ferrechio, Washington Examiner, "Historic partisan battle ahead over GOP effort to fill Supreme Court seat," 24 Sep. 2020 There is a very narrow and rigid career trajectory for most women who act. Roxane Gay, Harper's BAZAAR, "Sarah Paulson Has No Fear," 22 Sep. 2020 The streets are so narrow and the houses so high that sunlight seldom reaches the sitting rooms. Jill Lepore, The New Yorker, "Is Staying In Staying Safe?," 31 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb What one thing should be done to narrow the achievement gap? Donna St. George, Washington Post, "School board candidates weigh in on schools opening, online learning," 18 Oct. 2020 Right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro recently proposed an expensive antipoverty program and the budget deficit is expected to reach 16% of gross domestic product this year, down from 6% a year ago, frustrating efforts to narrow it. Paulo Trevisani And Jeffrey T. Lewis, WSJ, "Pandemic Spending Threatens Brazilian Stocks’ Hard-Won Climb," 14 Oct. 2020 No one can agree on how best to use or decipher them, with even the Fed seemingly reticent to narrow it down; its economists recently reviewed a cocktail of more than 20 gauges. Matthew Boesler,, "Decoding Gauges of Inflation Expectations Is Fed’s Next Big Task," 10 Oct. 2020 This brings Dallas back to 41-30 as the Cowboys continued to narrow the gap. Doug Lesmerises, cleveland, "The Cleveland Browns gave up an 84-yard touchdown drive that showed exactly how this defense can succeed," 6 Oct. 2020 Against Cleveland, Dallas emerged from a 41-14 fourth-quarter hole to narrow the gap to 3 after 24 unanswered fourth-quarter points. Jori Epstein, USA TODAY, "Dak Prescott after Cowboys' loss to Browns: I would trade records for more wins," 5 Oct. 2020 Radiocarbon dates on bits of wooden debris found in the pyroclastic layers could only narrow it down to somewhere between 270 and 562 CE. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "New data on a volcanic eruption that scattered ash across Maya lands," 28 Sep. 2020 The document still governs the global agenda for women’s issues and is credited with helping narrow the education gap, improve maternal health, and reduce violence against women. Erin Blakemore, National Geographic, "'Women's Rights are Human Rights,' 25 years on," 15 Sep. 2020 This year, Republicans are hoping to narrow the gap. Elaisha Stokes, CBS News, "More women than ever are running for Congress. One expert calls them "the heart of the resistance."," 10 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun No Trump-supporting, independent, or conservative-leaning characters appear except as foils to help illustrate the narrow-mindedness of the main subjects. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "The Dangerous Naïveté of Coastal Elites," 12 Sep. 2020 Ranked choice changes the very act of voting by allowing people to shift their support from losing candidates to more viable options as the field narrows, essentially doing on paper what caucusgoers have typically done in person. Jacey Fortin, New York Times, "Why Ranked-Choice Voting Is Having a Moment," 10 Feb. 2020 Further on, as the road narrows and deteriorates, there are fewer women. New York Times, "‘A Woman Like Her: The Story Behind the Honor Killing of a Social Media Star,’ by Sanam Maher: An Excerpt," 2 Feb. 2020 Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren – have the most to lose on Super Tuesday as the crowded field narrows and the front runners emerge. Leada Gore |, al, "Super Tuesday 2020: Which Democratic presidential candidate is predicted to win Alabama primary?," 27 Feb. 2020 But the book, in its illustration of cultural narrow-mindedness, remains highly enjoyable reading. New York Times, "Bogus Populism and Bad Music," 31 Jan. 2020 That's a tactic used even today in the narrows of the Strait of Hormuz, through which 20% of the world's oil passes. Jon Gambrell, USA TODAY, "Ukrainian plane crash may be grim echo of US downing of Iran flight in 1988," 10 Jan. 2020 That’s a tactic used even today in the narrows of the Strait of Hormuz, through which 20% of the world’s oil passes. Washington Post, "Crash may be grim echo of US downing of Iran flight in 1988," 10 Jan. 2020 And as the hour gets later, our chances of getting a contract before there is a strike narrow and become more remote. Javonte Anderson,, "CPS strike watch: Chances of averting a walkout over next 3 days is getting ‘more remote,’ teachers union president says," 14 Oct. 2019

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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Time Traveler for narrow

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for narrow

Last Updated

20 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Narrow.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for narrow


How to pronounce narrow (audio)

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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