1 of 2


nar·​ra·​tive ˈner-ə-tiv How to pronounce narrative (audio)
: something that is narrated : story, account
He is writing a detailed narrative of his life on the island.
: a way of presenting or understanding a situation or series of events that reflects and promotes a particular point of view or set of values
The rise of the Tea Party and the weakness of the Obama economy have fueled a Republican narrative about Big Government as a threat to liberty …Michael Grunwald
The media narrative around Kelly's appointment had two central ideas … : He would calm and professionalize the White House, and he would provide a more measured leadership style than his boss.Perry Bacon, Jr.
: the art or practice of narration
… depended not on narrative but on intensity derived from the verity to make the book jump.Stanley Kauffmann
: the representation in art of an event or story
also : an example of such a representation
the narrative of St. Joan of Arc
narratively adverb


2 of 2


: having the form of a story or representing a story
a narrative poem
narrative paintings
: of or relating to the process of telling a story
the author's narrative style
the novel's narrative structure

Examples of narrative in a Sentence

Noun He is writing a detailed narrative of his life on the island. People have questioned the accuracy of his narrative.
Recent Examples on the Web
For the past decade, Beyoncé has been using documentary film to craft a narrative about herself in the absence of traditional press interviews and public appearances. Carrie Battan, The New Yorker, 5 Dec. 2023 There is less emphasis on painting discrete narratives, more on building up autonomous tableaux from miscellaneous ingredients, many of them human pinwheels made up of monsters, masks, sheep, birds and bats, or compositions alluding to the Old Masters. Sebastian Smee, Washington Post, 5 Dec. 2023 Memoirists are often told to not mistake narrative for therapy, and the bar for telling such stories is rightfully quite high. Chris Vognar, Rolling Stone, 5 Dec. 2023 The personal becomes the political with Khan, whose roots lie in the erstwhile Rampur princely state of north India (now folded into Uttar Pradesh); the book is woven with personal anecdotes and oral histories that open up larger narratives about the cultural history of Rampur and India. Meher Mirza, Vogue, 5 Dec. 2023 In 2023, there was also a thriving reminder of a subgenre curated to caress the the egos of a rising conservative cultural tide, exemplifying how treacherously perfunctory their narratives and characters become when anchored to falsehoods of human behavior and interaction. Nicholas Bell, SPIN, 5 Dec. 2023 Grant chronicles his 142-day adventure in The Last Ride of the Pony Express, a first-person narrative describing his trip across the Great Plains of Nebraska and the sagebrush steppe of Wyoming in the company of his two horses, Badger and Chicken Fry. Laura Kiniry, Smithsonian Magazine, 5 Dec. 2023 Four of this year’s short contenders for the Oscars tell personal narratives that lead audiences on uniquely distinct journeys. Brande Victorian, The Hollywood Reporter, 4 Dec. 2023 Some dismiss phonics as boring and unnecessary, preferring instead to surround children with books and engaging content — such as a story with an exciting adventure, a narrative from history or captivating science. Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times, 4 Dec. 2023
With narrative elegance, formal brio and exquisite feeling, Cooper ushers Felicia into the spotlight and sometimes shunts the attention-hogging Lenny off into the wings. Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times, 21 Nov. 2023 But the rest of it, all the narrative material for episode one and following was created for this show. Brian Davids, The Hollywood Reporter, 20 Nov. 2023 Given that Hell’s Kitchen continues to check narrative boxes all along the line, what catches us? Sara Holdren, Vulture, 19 Nov. 2023 While the series has in the past treated various prime ministers as characters with equal narrative weight to most of the royals, Blair is an afterthought here. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 16 Nov. 2023 The chorus attacked its narrative role (and its several haunting stretches of a cappella singing) with crisp, consonant authority. Michael Andor Brodeur, Washington Post, 9 Nov. 2023 And not just the year’s best, but one of the best works of narrative art about the day-to-day grind and emotional toll of artistic creation. Peter Marks, Washington Post, 9 Nov. 2023 Encounter familiar faces, new villains, hard choices and dramatic twists in this narrative RPG that puts the player in charge as the story unfolds. Todd Spangler, Variety, 9 Nov. 2023 But unlike Katniss, who was very much the beating heart of the earlier films, Lucy Gray has to compete for narrative primacy with the young Coriolanus (Tom Blyth). David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 9 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'narrative.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


1567, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of narrative was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near narrative

Cite this Entry

“Narrative.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


nar·​ra·​tive ˈnar-ət-iv How to pronounce narrative (audio)
: something (as a story) that is told or written
: the art or practice of telling stories
narrative adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on narrative

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!