Share this entry

Share this page

narrow

Line breaks: nar¦row
Pronunciation: /ˈnarəʊ
 
/

Definition of narrow in English:

adjective (narrower, narrowest)

1Of small width in relation to length: 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.
Synonyms
2Limited in extent, amount, or scope: they ate a narrow range of foods
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.
Synonyms
limited, restricted, circumscribed, straitened, small, inadequate, insufficient, deficient, lacking, wanting;
select, exclusive
2.1(Of a person’s attitude or beliefs) limited in range and unwilling or unable 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: the idea of nationalism in the narrowest sense of the word
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.
Synonyms
strict, literal, exact, precise, close, faithful, true
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.
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
  • Instant polls following the debate suggested a narrow win for Obama.
  • Brisbane's narrow win was marred by a refereeing controversy in the 32nd minute.
  • Suddenly, the Claytons were looking at possible defeat rather than a narrow victory.
Synonyms
marginal;
lucky
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.

verb

Back to top  
1Become or make less wide: [no object]: the road narrowed and crossed an old bridge [with object]: the Victoria 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.
Synonyms
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 to indicate anger or other emotion: [with object]: she narrowed her eyes at him suspiciously [no object]: her eyes narrowed as she looked at him
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 in extent or scope: [no object]: the gap between the sexes is narrowing the trade surplus narrowed to £70 m in January [with object]: the committee narrowed the selection to three designers
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.

noun

(narrows) Back to top  
A narrow channel connecting two larger areas of water: there was a car ferry across the narrows of Loch Long
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.
Synonyms
strait(s), sound, neck, channel, waterway, passage, sea passage

Origin

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

Phrasal verbs

narrow something down

1
Reduce the number of possibilities or options: 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.

Derivatives

narrowish

1
adjective
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.

narrowness

2
noun
Example sentences
  • This shortcoming is symptomatic of the philosophical narrowness which constitutes the most frustrating aspect of the book.
  • The narrowness of the street, she claims, exacerbates the problem, forcing motorists up on to the footpath to allow other cars to pass.
  • The main difficulty is the narrowness of the footways in relation to the number of pedestrians wanting to use them.

Words that rhyme with narrow

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

Definition of narrow in:

Share this entry

Share this page

 

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Word of the day cumbersome
Pronunciation: ˈkəmbərsəm
adjective
large or heavy and therefore difficult to carry…