Definition of narrow in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈnerō/

adjective (narrower, narrowest)

1(Especially of something that is considerably longer or higher than it is wide) of small width: he made his way down the narrow road
More example sentences
  • Fabric is woven in relatively narrow widths and long lengths, cut and assembled side-to-side for garments, blankets and other textile uses.
  • Shin length pants, narrow or flared at the bottom.
  • Laminate flooring is made of long, narrow lengths of high-density fibre, generally with a photograph of wood on top, coated with an acrylic lacquer.
small, tapered, tapering, narrowing
archaic strait
slender, slim, slight, spare, attenuated, thin
confined, cramped, tight, restricted, limited, constricted
2Limited in extent, amount, or scope; restricted: his ability to get good results within narrow constraints of money and manpower
More example sentences
  • Like others, we have huge concerns about scopes of practice becoming narrow and restrictive.
  • The applicant's construction gives it a very narrow scope, virtually limited to prohibiting what is already an offence under the general criminal law.
  • Provincial co-management regimes are typically narrow in scope as well as limited in formal powers.
limited, restricted, circumscribed, small, inadequate, insufficient, deficient
2.1(Of a person’s attitude or beliefs) limited in range and lacking willingness or ability to appreciate alternative views: companies fail through their narrow view of what contributes to profit
More example sentences
  • Passion and commitment can be rather focused, occasionally ranging into the narrow point of view.
  • There are many objections that spring to mind - is that not a narrow view, intolerant, prejudicial to the good health of society?
  • Those who accuse us of social engineering often have very narrow, rigid view about the way the world should be and everyone should conform with that.
2.2Precise or strict in meaning: some of the narrower definitions of democracy
More example sentences
  • He is a conservative in this strict and narrow sense.
  • Although the Old Testament is a literature about an ancient people called Israel, it is not simply a national literature in any narrow sense.
  • Here I am thinking primarily of ethical difficulties, not linguistic or literary difficulties in the narrow sense.
strict, literal, exact, precise
2.3(Of a phonetic transcription) showing fine details of accent.
Example sentences
  • A narrow phonetic transcription of the yaourt lyrics will show how various formal features are employed to create the semblance of English.
  • The large number of diacritics makes it possible to mark minute shades of sound as required for a narrow phonetic transcription.
  • Many of the examples in this book are in fact given in such a narrow transcription.
2.4 Phonetics Denoting a vowel pronounced with the root of the tongue drawn back so as to narrow the pharynx.
Example sentences
  • A narrow diphthong has less movement: in RP, the vowel of day, which moves from half-close to close.
  • Some of the numerals end with a narrow vowel ‘i’, and this fact is closely related to the intelligibility.
  • For example, if a syllable ends in a narrow vowel (ie i or e) then the following syllable must begin with a narrow vowel.
3Denoting or relating to a contest that is won or lost by only a very small margin: the home team just hung on for a narrow victory
More example sentences
  • Suddenly, the Claytons were looking at possible defeat rather than a narrow victory.
  • The Lions escaped with a narrow four-point victory, topping Waterloo 73-69.
  • We must not allow the narrow margin of victory to become a source of greater conflict in society.
by a very small margin, close, near, by a hair's breadth
informal by a whisker


1Become or make less wide: [no object]: the road narrowed and crossed an old bridge [with object]: the embankment was built to narrow the river
More example sentences
  • From this haunted ridge the road curves down to Tiquina, where the lake narrows to a strait less than a kilometer wide.
  • The pace soon slows as the road narrows to a rocky rollercoaster single track, changing often and abruptly and leaving most newcomers flailing for gears.
  • Beyond Nakalele the road grows more scenic as it narrows to barely a lane and a half wide in places; go slow and honk on blind hairpin turns.
get/become/make narrower, get/become/make smaller, taper, diminish, decrease, reduce, contract, shrink, constrict
archaic straiten
1.1Almost close (one’s eyes) so as to focus on something or someone, or to indicate anger, suspicion, or other emotion: [with object]: she narrowed her eyes at him suspiciously [no object]: Jake’s eyes had narrowed to pinpoints
More example sentences
  • Crystal drew it as fast as she could, eyes narrowed to slits in anger.
  • And those widened eyes narrowed to slits in an instant, anger flashing in that faded gaze.
  • He finally turned, his red-rimmed eyes narrowing in anger.
2Become or make more limited or restricted in extent or scope: [no object]: their trade surplus narrowed to $70 million in January [with object]: New England had narrowed Denver’s lead from 13 points to 4
More example sentences
  • First, the scope of censorship has narrowed to such an extent that entire domains are now almost a free-for-all.
  • Thirdly, some States have passed implementing legislation that in fact restricts or narrows the scope of grounds of jurisdiction laid down in international treaties.
  • These opportunities are not narrowed to the chosen few in select parties.


A narrow channel connecting two larger areas of water: a basaltic fang rising from the narrows of the Upper Missouri
More example sentences
  • Eventually Elizabeth's fleet ran out of ammunition and withdrew to the narrows of the Channel.
  • However, take your boat up past the cages and through the narrows, and the loch opens up into an even more spectacular vista.
  • This ‘hill of the thunderbolt’ rises gracefully above the narrows of Loch Leven at Balla-chulish and is a fine looking mountain from whatever direction you view it.
strait(s), sound, channel, waterway, passage, sea passage, neck

Phrasal verbs

narrow something down

Reduce the number of possibilities or options of something: the company has narrowed down the candidates for the job to two
More example sentences
  • He adds that it has taken months to make progress and narrow options down to two possible sites and he feels it should now be made a general election issue by townspeople.
  • While she is still undecided on her career choice, her options have been narrowed down to journalism and management.
  • So far I've narrowed the options down to ten papers.



Example sentences
  • Another of the region's seats, with a narrowish 6,389 Labour majority over Tories last time, declares at about 3.30 am.
  • Likewise, you'll always find them on the left hand side of the stage, occupying the narrowish space in front of the DJ booth and the back door, on the way to the Gents loos.
  • Finally we got into the reception room which was a much larger space but a long narrowish room with the dance floor in the middle.


Old English nearu, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch naar 'dismal, unpleasant' and German Narbe 'scar'. Early senses in English included 'constricted' and 'miserly'.

Words that rhyme with narrow

arrow, barrow, farrow, harrow, Jarrow, marrow, sparrow, taro, tarot, Varro, yarrow

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: nar·row

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