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

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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 Some passageways are so narrow that for one sailor to pass another, one practically needs to press flat against the wall. Robert Faturechi, ProPublica, "After Discovering a Sailor With Coronavirus, the U.S. Navy Crowded Dozens Into One Room," 17 Mar. 2020 Federal quarantine and isolation powers are narrow and have been used sparingly over the last 50 years, largely to prevent infectious individuals from entering the US or travel from state to state. Wired Opinion, Wired, "What Emergency Declarations Can (and Can’t) Do in a Pandemic," 13 Mar. 2020 The city is already facing a budget deficit of $321.4 million over the next two fiscal years, Rosenfield said Wednesday, which is narrower than a previous forecast of $419.5 million. Roland Li,, "Worse than 9/11: Coronavirus slams SF hospitality industry; City could lose tens of millions of dollars," 11 Mar. 2020 Oregon and the federal government have faced criticism this week for the relatively narrow criteria officials use to decide who can get a test. oregonlive, "Still no new coronavirus cases on Day 8, state laboratory finds," 6 Mar. 2020 Federal officials have faced fierce criticism for overly narrow criteria about who should be tested and for shipping coronavirus test kits to public health labs that included a component that in most cases did not work correctly. Anchorage Daily News, "California undertakes extensive effort to trace contacts of woman with coronavirus," 28 Feb. 2020 The headlights are narrow and there are slim vertical daytime running lights at the concept's front edges. Colin Beresford, Car and Driver, "DS Aero Sport Lounge EV Offers French Design Mastery Plus 671 HP," 27 Feb. 2020 The company posted a net loss of $54.8 million in the quarter, but the losses were much narrower than the same period in 2018. Ryan Faughnder, Los Angeles Times, "AMC Theatre to open in Porter Ranch as cinema giant grows in L.A.," 26 Feb. 2020 Inside, the space is narrow and long with a hint of farm charm with old photos of Blake’s family members and the farmhouse on walls. Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press, "Cider doughnuts, cupcakes join together at Birmingham's Bakehouse46," 25 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The negotiations narrowed the program, in part over the administration’s concerns about burdening small businesses, despite objections from some lawmakers and economists. Emily Cochrane, New York Times, "Congress Is Knitting a Coronavirus Safety Net. It Already Has Big Holes.," 17 Mar. 2020 Course workers narrow the fairways, grooming the greens to major-tourney specs, and tweak the rough and the bunkers. Scott Ostler,, "PGA at Harding Park? Golf championship in question, but construction continues at San Francisco course," 17 Mar. 2020 Students further narrowed the list to four Feb. 18. Alec Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Students select 'Phoenix' as new nickname for Menomonee Falls High School," 16 Mar. 2020 Once again, showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy gradually begin to bring the larger picture into focus, as threads narrow, if not completely intersect in the episodes previewed. Brian Lowry, CNN, "'Westworld' could learn a thing or two from 'Watchmen' as its third season begins," 15 Mar. 2020 Eventually, the team narrowed down 400 potential trans-Neptunian objects, which were viewed over the course of at least six different nights. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, "Our Weird Solar System Gets Weirder With 139 Newly Discovered Minor Planets," 13 Mar. 2020 The Bucks narrowed the gap to six after a Bridges turnover, but Ricky Rubio hit free throws after a Suns timeout with increase the gap to eight, 136-128, with 42.2 seconds left. Duane Rankin, azcentral, "Suns down Milwaukee Bucks to close out homestand with second straight win," 8 Mar. 2020 Two silver pennies narrow the date even further; both coins were minted during the reign of King Edward III, between 1327 and 1377. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Mass grave reveals how Black Death impacted rural England," 6 Mar. 2020 Some 28,000 entries were submitted and 4,700 volunteer judges narrowed the list down to 155. William Harwood, CBS News, "Seventh grader wins contest to name new Mars rover: Perseverance," 5 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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 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

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

24 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Narrow.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Mar. 2020.

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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

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