Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to: navigation, search



From Middle English narow, narowe, narewe, narwe, naru, from Old English nearu ‎(narrow, strait, confined, constricted, not spacious, limited, petty; limited, poor, restricted; oppressive, causing anxiety (of that which restricts free action of body or mind), causing or accompanied by difficulty, hardship, oppressive; oppressed, not having free action; strict, severe), from Proto-Germanic *narwaz ‎(constricted, narrow), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)ner- ‎(to turn, bend, twist, constrict). Cognate with Scots naro, narow, narrow ‎(narrow), North Frisian naar, noar, noor ‎(narrow), Saterland Frisian noar ‎(bleak, dismal, meager, ghastly, unwell), Saterland Frisian Naarwe ‎(scar), West Frisian near ‎(narrow), Dutch naar ‎(dismal, bleak, ill, sick), Low German naar ‎(dismal, ghastly), German Narbe ‎(a closed wound, scar), Norwegian norve ‎(a clip, staple), Icelandic njörva- ‎(narrow-, in compounds).



narrow ‎(comparative narrower, superlative narrowest)

  1. Having a small width; not wide; slim; slender; having opposite edges or sides that are close, especially by comparison to length or depth.
    a narrow hallway
    • 1922, Ben Travers, chapter 1, in A Cuckoo in the Nest[1]:
      She was like a Beardsley Salome, he had said. And indeed she had the narrow eyes and the high cheekbone of that creature, and as nearly the sinuosity as is compatible with human symmetry.
    • 1963, Margery Allingham, chapter 14, in The China Governess[2]:
      Just under the ceiling there were three lunette windows, heavily barred and blacked out in the normal way by centuries of grime. Their bases were on a level with the pavement outside, a narrow way which was several feet lower than the road behind the house.
    • 2013 July-August, Catherine Clabby, “Focus on Everything”, in American Scientist:
      Not long ago, it was difficult to produce photographs of tiny creatures with every part in focus. That’s because the lenses that are excellent at magnifying tiny subjects produce a narrow depth of field. A photo processing technique called focus stacking has changed that.
  2. Of little extent; very limited; circumscribed.
    • Bishop Wilkins
      The Jews were but a small nation, and confined to a narrow compass in the world.
  3. (figuratively) Restrictive; without flexibility or latitude.
    a narrow interpretation
  4. Contracted; of limited scope; illiberal; bigoted.
    a narrow mind; narrow views
    • Macaulay
      a narrow understanding
  5. Having a small margin or degree.
    a narrow escape
    The Republicans won by a narrow majority.
    • 2011 September 18, Ben Dirs, “Rugby World Cup 2011: England 41-10 Georgia”, in BBC Sport[3]:
      As in their narrow defeat of Argentina last week, England were indisciplined at the breakdown, and if Georgian fly-half Merab Kvirikashvili had remembered his kicking boots, Johnson's side might have been behind at half-time.
  6. (dated) Limited as to means; straitened; pinching.
    narrow circumstances
  7. Parsimonious; niggardly; covetous; selfish.
    • Smalridge
      a very narrow and stinted charity
  8. Scrutinizing in detail; close; accurate; exact.
    • Milton
      But first with narrow search I must walk round / This garden, and no corner leave unspied.
  9. (phonetics) Formed (as a vowel) by a close position of some part of the tongue in relation to the palate; or (according to Bell) by a tense condition of the pharynx; distinguished from wide.


Derived terms[edit]



narrow ‎(third-person singular simple present narrows, present participle narrowing, simple past and past participle narrowed)

  1. (transitive) To reduce in width or extent; to contract.
    We need to narrow the search.
  2. (intransitive) To get narrower.
    The road narrows.
  3. (knitting) To contract the size of, as a stocking, by taking two stitches into one.



narrow ‎(plural narrows)

  1. (chiefly in the plural) A narrow passage, especially a contracted part of a stream, lake, or sea; a strait connecting two bodies of water.
    the Narrows of New York harbor
    • Gladstone
      Near the island lay on one side the jaws of a dangerous narrow.