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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

As the threats to shipping mount, America wants to set up a coalition to escort vessels in both the Gulf and the Bab al-Mandab, a narrow passage off the west coast of Saudi Arabia that leads to the Suez Canal. The Economist, "A British warship stops Iran seizing an oil tanker," 11 July 2019 But as of now, Ms. Cabán, a public defender and political novice, holds a narrow lead over Melinda Katz, the Queens borough president. New York Times, "5 Key Things to Know About Tiffany Cabán," 26 June 2019 Among potential women voters, Biden has a substantial lead, 60% to 34%, while among men, Biden has a narrow lead on Trump, 47% to 46%. Terryscollins, Fortune, "Biden Leads Trump by 'Landslide' in Latest Quinnipiac Poll," 12 June 2019 But this year, Warren Carlyle’s take on the classic Cole Porter show may finally prove a winner, holding a narrow lead over Ain’t Too Proud and Hadestown. Ben Zauzmer, The Hollywood Reporter, "Tony Awards: Predicting the Musical Winners Using Math," 7 June 2019 Fortunately, four professional local pilots have rendezvoused with the Spirit, clambered up a shaky 75-foot rope ladder, and installed themselves on the bridge to help steer the ship through the narrow passage. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "America's New Energy Coast," 19 Mar. 2019 An unprecedented second chance To access just the first of seven ritual offering chambers identified so far within Balamku, archaeologists must crawl flat on their stomachs through hundreds of feet of tortuously narrow passages. Gena Steffens, National Geographic, "Maya ritual cave ‘untouched’ for 1,000 years stuns archaeologists," 4 Mar. 2019 Also, the opening of your cervix (the narrow passage at the lower end of your uterus) is pretty small. Korin Miller, SELF, "Here’s When to See a Doctor About Period Clots," 1 Mar. 2019 The state Republican Party and the 9th Congressional District GOP said the state elections board should immediately certify unofficial results showing Mark Harris with a narrow lead. Emery P. Dalesio, The Seattle Times, "North Carolina GOP wants candidate in Congress despite probe," 17 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The average wage of US immigrants, for example, is below that of people born there, though the gap narrows with time spent in the country. Adam Rasmi, Quartz at Work, "It pays to move abroad—especially if you’re under 35," 9 July 2019 Plans also show narrowing Fernwood Boulevard — between Oxford and U.S. 17-92 — from four lanes to two lanes, adding on-street angled parking, building new sidewalks and installing a roundabout. Martin E. Comas,, "Seminole talks to Lynx, Jai-Alai fronton owner about moving busy bus stop to make way for redevelopment," 5 July 2019 Prosus’ listing in Europe also promises access to a larger capital pool and possibly achieve the company’s goal of narrowing the margin between Naspers’ market value and the value of its Tencent stake. Yomi Kazeem, Quartz Africa, "Africa’s most valuable company has appointed its first black female CEO," 4 July 2019 Though there is a science fiction and fantasy section on Netflix, a code like this one will narrow it down just a bit more. Rachel E. Greenspan, Time, "These Are the Netflix Codes You Can Use to Take a Shortcut Straight to the Shows and Movies You Actually Want to Watch," 3 July 2019 An enduring story line at this Women's World Cup is the narrowing gap between soccer's upper class and the ascending programs. Steven Goff,, "England can match the U.S. in confidence. Can it measure up to the Americans’ play?," 1 July 2019 Although President Donald Trump won the 2016 election without having previously held elected office, some 2020 Democrats are likely to take similar shots at the resumes of their opponents when the field narrows. Renae Reints, Fortune, "What the 2020 Democratic Candidates Didn’t Say During the First Debate," 27 June 2019 Out of an initial list of 50, the district screened 16 candidates before narrowing the list to five. John Benson,, "Olmsted Falls Board of Education names Leo Spagnola as next high school principal," 26 June 2019 Experts have tried to narrow it to a virus, certain mosquito species and finally the lychee fruit. Swati Gupta, CNN, "Child death toll from brain disease crosses 100 in India as parents protest," 18 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Time is told by the rising up and rolling down of the sunlight on the cliffs, by the glimpse of Cassiopeia in the narrows turning around the polestar through the stardust of perfect clear September nights. Christopher Ketcham, Harper's magazine, "Ramblin’ Man," 24 June 2019 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about narrow

Statistics for narrow

Last Updated

15 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for narrow

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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).


to complain fretfully

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What's that Smell?! Quiz

  • wide eyed dog smelling rose
  • Someone who is hircine smells like a:
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!