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 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

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 The caucus vote came out to a narrow margin of 12-11 in favor of Larrison. Kaitlin Lange, The Indianapolis Star, 7 Oct. 2021 Forest Road 552, which leads to the Inner Basin, is narrow, rocky, rough and not built for crowds of autos. Shanti Lerner, The Arizona Republic, 6 Oct. 2021 Members of this group believe Bitcoin has a narrow, major or even no place within a wider ecosystem of cryptocurrencies. Pete Rizzo, Forbes, 29 Sep. 2021 Because of Democrats’ narrow margin of majority, almost everyone has a veto on the whole agenda, which means anyone who wants a tweak has to at least be heard. Philip Elliott, Time, 28 Sep. 2021 That would be a new and groovy set of vows indeed, given how wedded California has been to its direct-democratic ballot culture, with the result that its ballot measures tend to be narrow, specific, confusing, and beset by hidden interests. Nathan Heller, The New Yorker, 19 Sep. 2021 Partisan differences narrow when considering the lasting effects of the 9/11 attacks. Sofi Sinozich, ABC News, 8 Sep. 2021 And Monday the team can start practicing in pads, which is sure to make those already-narrow passing lanes even tighter. Andy Vasquez, USA TODAY, 30 July 2021 For example, inflamed arteries become narrow and prone to blockage. Lucy Alexander, Robb Report, 23 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In September, Dave Kaval said the team plans to narrow its list of potential new stadium sites in the Las Vegas area by early November. Sarah Ravani, San Francisco Chronicle, 6 Oct. 2021 However, there is also great risk in having so singular and narrow a focus on these institutions. Michael Ellison, Fortune, 30 Sep. 2021 Starting August 18, Pinners will be able to narrow down their searches for hairstyles, haircuts, and hair colors by their specific hair texture or type. Nicola Dall'ase, Allure, 18 Aug. 2021 Cigna will draw guidelines to narrow eligibility by first requiring patients to pass a cognitive test. Ken Alltucker, USA TODAY, 22 June 2021 This is an easy way to shrink a defensive coordinator’s play sheet on gameday and narrow the focus of your QB. cleveland, 6 Jan. 2021 Some companies are looking to slim down and narrow their focus. Cara Lombardo And Dana Cimilluca, WSJ, 19 Oct. 2020 The Seminoles needed just two plays and 11 seconds to narrow the scoring gap. Shannon Russell, The Courier-Journal, 25 Sep. 2021 That, more than anything else, is exactly why the White House and Democratic leaders are making moves like the above, all as Biden's top aides work intensively behind the scenes to narrow differences. Phil Mattingly, CNN, 24 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Neither enjoys a large-enough back seat to support adults for hours on end, but the Ford squeezes out a narrow of victory in cargo room. K.c. Colwell, Car and Driver, 26 June 2021 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, 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, 10 Feb. 2020 Further on, as the road narrows and deteriorates, there are fewer women. New York Times, 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, 27 Feb. 2020 But the book, in its illustration of cultural narrow-mindedness, remains highly enjoyable reading. New York Times, 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, 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, 10 Jan. 2020

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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Dictionary Entries Near narrow




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Statistics for narrow

Last Updated

9 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Narrow.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Oct. 2021.

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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.

More from Merriam-Webster on narrow

Nglish: Translation of narrow for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of narrow for Arabic Speakers


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