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

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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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

On the face of it, the protests were about something narrow and technical (see article). The Economist, "The rule of law in Hong Kong," 13 June 2019 According to Stivers, the Pebble Beach Golf Links greens will be faster and firmer, the fairways will be narrower and the rough is going to be a lot higher than during the AT&T Pro-Am. Thomas Wright, The Mercury News, "The basics of the US Open at Pebble Beach," 10 June 2019 On a recent Saturday, Cherizier ducked through purple and yellow sheets hung out to dry in narrow alleyways and sidestepped rusty wheelbarrows filled with sugarcane and women doing their wash in buckets. Washington Post, "Leader or killer? A day with ‘Barbecue’ in Haiti’s capital," 7 June 2019 On a recent Saturday, Cherizier ducked through purple and yellow sheets hung out to dry in narrow alleyways and sidestepped rusty wheelbarrows filled with sugarcane and women doing their wash in buckets. Fox News, "Leader or killer? A day with 'Barbecue' in Haiti's capital," 7 June 2019 Taking action against only Georgia felt like a highly narrow and targeted response to a national battle. Megan Cerullo, CBS News, "Hollywood's Peter Chernin to raise $15M to fight anti-abortion laws," 4 June 2019 Wander down narrow medieval streets and admire neat Georgian townhouses in the historic neighborhoods of Auld Reekie, so-called for the clouds of smoke that once covered this center of Scottish industry. Sarah Christensen, National Geographic, "Scotland: Land of Legends," 31 May 2019 Michigan was one of three Midwest states — Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are the others — to flip to the Republicans in 2016 by narrow margins. Aamer Madhani, USA TODAY, "Why 2020 candidates are looking beyond the early states and making a broader push to court voters," 15 May 2019 Similarly, depending on the width of your closet, the hanging rod can be made narrower and wider accordingly (from 20 to 36 inches). Taylor Mead, House Beautiful, "This $15 Hanging Rod Doubled the Size of My Tiny Closet," 2 Apr. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

By the time men were in their 40s, those disparities had narrowed. Washington Post, "Census says more than 60% of US men are fathers," 15 June 2019 In 2011 the black-white gap had narrowed to 4.4 years for men (5.7% less) and just 3.1 years (3.8% less) for women. The Economist, "Black men in America are living almost as long as white men," 14 June 2019 Despite his athletic ability, Gathers’ opportunities may be narrowing in Dallas. Lorenzo Reyes, USA TODAY, "Cowboys TE Rico Gathers suspended 1 game by NFL for marijuana arrest," 14 June 2019 Interestingly, while Biden beats Mr. Trump by a landslide in the Quinnipiac poll, his lead among his Democratic competitors has narrowed since April. CBS News, "New poll shows Biden beating Trump by a "landslide"," 12 June 2019 Metropolitan Council leaders have narrowed the field of candidates to Eddie Frizell, a Minneapolis police inspector, and A.J. Olson, who is Metro Transit’s acting police chief. Frederick Melo, Twin Cities, "Two finalists for Metro Transit police chief to meet public Thursday," 12 June 2019 The 6-foot-5, 225-pounder narrowed his choices down from 25 offers although Ohio State is said to be the favorite by both 247 Sports and Rivals. Michelle Gardner, azcentral, "ASU football recruiting: Sun Devils in the hunt for Cincinnati tight end Joe Royer," 12 June 2019 His margin narrowed to 2.2 points in the runoff, just enough to secure another term. Luke Whyte,, "Here’s how Nirenberg narrowly won re-election as San Antonio’s mayor," 11 June 2019 But an apparent mistake in the Apple Store may have narrowed down the date. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, "Apple may have leaked the Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR release month," 11 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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.

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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

17 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for narrow

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

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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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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).


incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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