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 In fact, with the Panthers taking down the Washington Football Team, the Dolphins now hold the No. 3 overall selection because of a narrow lead in the strength of schedule tiebreaker with the Falcons. Lorenzo Reyes, USA TODAY, "NFL Week 16 winners and losers: Is Packers QB Aaron Rodgers running away in MVP race?," 28 Dec. 2020 But after further ballots were found and reviewed, the narrow lead swung back to Tenney’s favor giving her a 12 vote lead. Kerry Picket, Washington Examiner, "Final uncalled House race won't be settled in court by the time new Congress convenes," 22 Dec. 2020 Meanwhile, newcomer Joe Carreón held a narrow lead over Alicia McClung in early voting for the District 8 seat, which is being vacated by outgoing trustee Miguel Solis. Corbett Smith, Dallas News, "Voters supporting campus improvements in record-breaking DISD bond but appear to balk at athletic and fine art proposals, early results show," 20 Dec. 2020 In the 52nd minute, Oviedo sophomore Ryleigh Holcomb took a pass from Lexi Johnson and got a narrow lead on a defender down the left side. Steve Gorches,, "No. 1 Oviedo girls soccer tops Timber Creek on a splendid goal," 18 Dec. 2020 The Bruins reached the 25-yard line, but were forced to settle for a field goal to take a narrow 38-36 lead that would only stand for 36 seconds. Ryan Kartje, Los Angeles Times, "USC’s defense gets its (second) act together in victory over UCLA," 12 Dec. 2020 In the primary, Bridges held a narrow lead over DeLarge. Staff Report,, "New Orleans elects Marcus DeLarge to criminal court bench; 2 others win Juvenile Court posts," 5 Dec. 2020 In the race for the state Senate, the Republican Caucus spent $3.9 million in 2020 and held on to a narrow, one-vote majority over Senate Democrats, whose caucus reported spending $7.1 million to try to flip the chamber. Star Tribune, "Minnesota Democrats outspent GOP while losing ground in battle for legislative control," 2 Feb. 2021 Democrats currently hold a narrow majority in the House, with 222 seats to 211 for Republicans. Kerry Picket, Washington Examiner, "Final uncalled House race shows Republican Claudia Tenney in lead," 1 Feb. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb As his path to victory continued to narrow, President Trump continued to spread false and unsubstantiated information about the election during a 15-minute address from the White House briefing room. Taylor Kate Brown,, "Bay Briefing: Election Night 3.0," 6 Nov. 2020 The margin between Trump and Biden has continued to narrow in Georgia as final votes are tallied in Democratic-leaning areas. Julia Wick, Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: Essential California: The common threads in three L.A. races," 5 Nov. 2020 The lead by Trump continued to narrow as more precincts reported. Keith Matheny, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan Election 2020 live updates: New turnout record in Michigan," 5 Nov. 2020 The race for the White House continued to narrow Wednesday, hinging on just a few battleground states that are still too close to call. Sophie Lewis, CBS News, "Joe Biden breaks Obama's record for most votes ever cast for a U.S. presidential candidate," 4 Nov. 2020 The $600 weekly bonus helped narrow historic income inequality between Black workers and white workers that worsened early in the health crisis, when layoffs largely affected people in low-paying jobs disproportionately held by Blacks and Latinos. Jessica Menton, USA TODAY, "Unemployment benefits: Racial disparity in jobless aid grows as Congress stalls on COVID-19 stimulus," 23 Oct. 2020 Minnesota House Democrats launched a push Monday to legalize recreational marijuana and automatically expunge most minor cannabis convictions, framing the issue as crucial to narrow racial disparities in the legal system. Steve Karnowski, Star Tribune, "Minnesota House Democrats launch push to legalize marijuana," 1 Feb. 2021 The conservative outcry over the moderation of posts, particularly those of the president, has led to multiple congressional hearings and threats to narrow or repeal the law. Jessica Guynn, USA TODAY, "Trump allies and Republican lawmakers lost thousands of followers in Twitter purge after Capitol riots," 15 Jan. 2021 The victory gave Democrats a pick-up to narrow the GOP's control of the chamber., "The biggest Arizona headlines of 2020, from COVID-19 to the elections," 28 Dec. 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

23 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Narrow.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2021.

Style: MLA
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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.

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