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 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 Nick Saban’s first game against Alabama at LSU coach resulted in a narrow victory for the Tigers, prompting students to rush the field and take down the goal posts. Ben Flanagan |, al, "Alabama vs. LSU: Look back at the wild fan photos from the Nick Saban era rivalry," 6 Nov. 2019 His narrow victory in the September primary also prompted complaints to the State Elections Enforcement Commission, which opened an investigation and issued subpoenas regarding allegations of absentee ballot irregularities in the race. Edmund H. Mahony,, "On eve of Tuesday’s election, Connecticut Supreme Court will hear appeal of Joe Ganim primary win in Bridgeport mayoral race," 2 Nov. 2019 The viewer is led through the narrow lanes of Jerusalem’s old city with a Palestinian anthropologist and the streets of Hebron with a former Israeli soldier who is now a peace activist. Steve Hendrix, Washington Post, "Barred from West Bank and Gaza, Omar and Tlaib can now see them via VR," 31 Oct. 2019 New York’s narrow lanes of SoHo at night are no different than the glinting cobblestone streets of the Marais in Paris (where Elio is in Find Me) or of Trastevere in Rome (where Samuel and Miranda visit). Andre Aciman, Condé Nast Traveler, "In ‘Call Me By Your Name’ Sequel, André Aciman Takes Elio and Oliver Through His Own Travel History," 21 Oct. 2019 The announcement means months more of narrow freeway lanes after at least two runaway barges struck the bridge when floodwaters swelled the river as remnants of Tropical Storm Imelda drenched east Texas last month. Dug Begley, Houston Chronicle, "I-10 bridge repairs at San Jacinto River will take until early 2020," 2 Oct. 2019 The streets have 10-foot-wide sidewalks and narrow lanes for cars separated by a landscaped median. J.k. Dineen,, "Despite climate crisis, California continues to embrace exurban sprawl," 20 Sep. 2019 Climb the mountains of Morocco Morocco’s Atlas Mountain Road tests drivers’ mettle, with two narrow, guardrail-free lanes snaking around too many blind curves to count. National Geographic, "Here are 10 of the world’s most spectacular road trips," 13 Sep. 2019 For decades, vehicles on the old Kosciuszko Bridge squeezed onto one span of six narrow lanes that could feel like a parking lot at times. New York Times, "The City’s Most Hated Bridge Gets a Nearly $1 Billion Makeover," 29 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Located on the south coast of the adjacent archipelago, Henningsvaer is the gateway Lofoten, which narrows and stretches west into the Atlantic Ocean. Mallory Farrugia, Vogue, "Why Your Next Summer Getaway Should Be Above the Arctic Circle," 14 Nov. 2019 To further complicate the project, the house was built right up against the mountain, which narrowed Costello’s field of options. Lisa Van Loo, azcentral, "Spanish colonial home stripped down to recover spectacular Camelback Mountain views. Take a look.," 14 Nov. 2019 In 2015, the law was amended again, narrowing that parameter to the bottom 6% in the previous year. al, "Gov. Kay Ivey wants to stop using ‘failing’ label on Alabama schools," 14 Nov. 2019 As part of the makeover, Stebbins also renovated its store, consolidated from two floors to one and narrowed its focus to housewares, patio furniture, paint, packaged hardware and sofas and recliners. Lorraine Mirabella,, "Stebbins Anderson in Towson will close after 152 years in business," 12 Nov. 2019 The Conference Board data, however, underscore a narrowing pay gap between workers age 20 to 24, largely members of Gen Z, who are typically landing their first jobs, and more experienced 25- to 34-year-olds, who fall in the millennial generation. Paul Davidson, USA TODAY, "Hey Millennials, look out below! Gen Zers may already be catching up in the salary race," 12 Nov. 2019 The rural/urban difference remained about the same for deaths due to stroke but narrowed for unintentional injuries. Steven Reinberg, CBS News, "Rural Americans are more likely to die from preventable causes, CDC reports," 8 Nov. 2019 Baseball Giants narrow search The San Francisco Giants narrowed their search for a new manager to three finalists, a person with direct knowledge of the process said., "College Basketball," 7 Nov. 2019 Cinema giant AMC Theatres on Thursday said its third-quarter loss narrowed as revenue rose amid a quarterly company record of 87.1 million tickets sold at its theaters. Etan Vlessing, The Hollywood Reporter, "AMC Theatres Loss Narrows on Record Attendance, Stubs A-List Reaches 900,000 Subs," 7 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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 But the question remains where their supporters will fall as the field narrows without any candidate doing much to break away from the rest of the pack. Shannon Pettypiece, NBC News, "Biden holds the center, but does little to pick up ground," 1 Aug. 2019 If the strategy is to go wide, Chile will force you to play narrow. Luis Miguel Echegaray,, "History, Rivalry Front and Center in Both Copa America Semifinals," 1 July 2019 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

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

18 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for narrow

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

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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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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

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strength of mind

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