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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from narrow


narrowly adverb
narrowness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for narrow

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective In January, the average hourly earnings growth of 3.1% stayed within the relatively narrow range of the past year and a half. Sarah Chaney, WSJ, "U.S. Economy Added 225,000 Jobs in January," 7 Feb. 2020 The new rule, from the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers, sets a narrower definition for which waters are covered by federal pollution protections. Abby Smith, Washington Examiner, "Former EPA officials say farmers won't get the aid they're claiming from Trump water rule rewrite," 28 Jan. 2020 The front bow is a little too narrow, but there’s enough detail to get the point across. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Iran Might Soon Blast Its Fake U.S. Aircraft Carrier (Again)," 10 Jan. 2020 The relatively narrow waterway can be covered by weapons supplied to the Houthis by Iran, Schuster said. Brad Lendon, CNN, "Iran's military power is boosted by unconventional tactics and proxies in strategic locations," 9 Jan. 2020 After Li’s dramatically personalized Fourth Concerto, Fellner’s Emperor seemed pretty much standard issue, with a padded tone and relatively narrow dynamic range. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, "Five pianists, Fort Worth Symphony perform all five Beethoven piano concertos," 5 Jan. 2020 Suggest a narrow definition of March Madness — one that limits scoring to basketball. Sally Schwartz Higginson,, "Column: I can’t fight the feeling of Ebenezer Scrooge thanks to my December birthday," 12 Dec. 2019 Market Street — back then a roadway with two relatively narrow sidewalks and a whole lot of asphalt in between — would be where downtown riders connected with the rapid transit system. John King,, "A visionary plan to rid SF’s Market Street of cars — in 1963. Sound familiar?," 6 Dec. 2019 There’s no reason to have a narrow definition of beauty. Andrew Dansby, Houston Chronicle, "Isaac Mizrahi talks memoir, fashion at Jewish Book fair opening night," 8 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Pete Buttigieg narrows the gap with Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire, as Joe Biden flails IT IS NOT the sort of thing that moderates are supposed to do. The Economist, "What's next? The Democrats risk having no clear nominee to challenge Donald Trump," 9 Feb. 2020 Researchers narrowed in on a specific pesticide, a chemical called atrazine, which is the second most commonly sold pesticide globally. Popular Science, "A healthy wasp microbiome can fend off pesticides," 5 Feb. 2020 Now, it's been narrowed to the point that all six candidates who qualified for the debate are white. Chris Sikich, Indianapolis Star, "January Democratic debate: 6 things to watch for Pete Buttigieg," 14 Jan. 2020 The design competition launched in March and drew 68 submissions from 19 countries, which were then narrowed to six by a selection committee. Kate Santich,, "Pulse memorial and museum design announced," 9 Oct. 2019 Beijing is offering to narrow its trade surplus with the United States by purchasing more American exports. Washington Post, "The Latest: Bangladesh: Rohingya refugee crisis is worsening," 28 Sep. 2019 China is offering to narrow a trade surplus with the United States by purchasing more American exports. San Diego Union-Tribune, "China’s government, turning 70, tells its story at the UN," 27 Sep. 2019 The three Anne Arundel locations were narrowed down from a list of 14 potential crossings that the MDTA announced in February. Pamela Wood,, "Bay Bridge study narrows options to three crossings from Anne Arundel County," 27 Aug. 2019 Its exhaust ports were narrowed into tight slits to minimize detection by infrared systems. Alex Hollings, Popular Mechanics, "Why the F-117 Nighthawk Is Such a Badass Plane," 12 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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 About half of private employers saw their pay gap narrow, while half said the difference was worse or there was no change, according to preliminary data from the Government Equalities Office. Washington Post, "The Gender Pay Gap in Britain Gets Another Look," 8 Apr. 2019 And that’s when the distance between peaceful protest and violent protest narrows. Time, "Protests in the Trump Era Have Been Mostly Peaceful. Here's How the 2020 Election Could Change That," 12 Dec. 2019 The odds of an inversion only increase as the hypothetical margin narrows. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "The Case Against the Popular Vote," 20 Sep. 2019 After two and half days of lugging 50-pound packs, the family reached the narrows, a spot in the river surrounded by solid rock up to 40 feet high on each side. Wire Service, The Mercury News, "Two California hikers found a message in a bottle and helped rescue a stranded family. Now the family wants to thank them.," 11 Sep. 2019 After two and half days of lugging 50-pound packs, the family reached the narrows, a spot in the river surrounded by solid rock up to 40 feet high on each side. Cheri Mossburg, CNN, "Two hikers found a message in a bottle and helped rescue a stranded family. Now the family wants to thank them," 11 Sep. 2019 As the Democratic field narrows, voters should be skeptical of debates that place individual climate angst ahead of the industrial policies that could take the biggest bite out of emissions. Katie Palmer, Quartz, "The Democrats aren’t trying to take away your light bulbs," 7 Sep. 2019 The chromoly steel frame and aluminum subframe keep the bike narrow. Joe Michaud, San Diego Union-Tribune, "2019 KTM 790 Duke: a lightweight, midsize rocket of a bike," 25 Aug. 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.

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

Time Traveler for narrow

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for narrow

Last Updated

11 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Narrow.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on narrow

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for narrow

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


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!