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).
- (General American) IPA(key): /ˈnæɹoʊ/, /ˈnɛɹoʊ/
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈnæɹəʊ/
Audio (US) (file)
Audio (US) (file)
- Rhymes: -ærəʊ
- Having a small width; not wide; having opposite edges or sides that are close, especially by comparison to length or depth.
a narrow hallway
1963, Margery Allingham, chapter 14, in The China Governess:
- 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.
- Of little extent; very limited; circumscribed.
- Bishop Wilkins
- The Jews were but a small nation, and confined to a narrow compass in the world.
- Bishop Wilkins
- (figuratively) Restrictive; without flexibility or latitude.
a narrow interpretation
- Contracted; of limited scope; bigoted
a narrow mind
- 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:
- 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.
- (dated) Limited as to means; straitened
- narrow circumstances
- Parsimonious; niggardly; covetous; selfish.
- a very narrow and stinted charity
- Scrutinizing in detail; close; accurate; exact.
- But first with narrow search I must walk round / This garden, and no corner leave unspied.
- (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.
- (transitive) To reduce in width or extent; to contract.
- We need to narrow the search.
- (intransitive) To get narrower.
- The road narrows.
- (knitting) To contract the size of, as a stocking, by taking two stitches into one.
narrow (plural narrows)