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[nar-uh-tiv] /ˈnær ə tɪv/
a story or account of events, experiences, or the like, whether true or fictitious.
a book, literary work, etc., containing such a story.
the art, technique, or process of narrating, or of telling a story:
Somerset Maugham was a master of narrative.
a story that connects and explains a carefully selected set of supposedly true events, experiences, or the like, intended to support a particular viewpoint or thesis:
to rewrite the prevailing narrative about masculinity; the narrative that our public schools are failing.
consisting of or being a narrative:
a narrative poem.
of or relating to narration, or the telling of a story:
My English teacher's narrative skill makes characters seem to come to life.
Fine Arts. representing stories or events pictorially or sculpturally:
narrative painting.
Compare anecdotal (def 2).
Origin of narrative
1445-55; (adjective) < Middle French narratif (adjective and noun), from Late Latin narrātīvus “suitable for narration, narration” from narrāt-, stem of narrātus, perfect participle of narrāre “to narrate” + -ive
Related forms
narratively, adverb
nonnarrative, adjective, noun
seminarrative, adjective
1. chronicle, tale.
Synonym Study
1. Narrative, account, recital, history are terms for a story of an event or events. Narrative is the general term (for a story long or short; of past, present, or future; factual or imagined; told for any purpose; and with or without much detail). The other three terms apply primarily to factual stories of time already past. An account is usually told informally, often for entertainment, with emphasis on details of action, whether about an incident or a series of happenings. A recital is an extended narrative usually with an informative purpose, emphasizing accuracy and exhaustive details of facts and figures. A history, usually written and at some length, is characterized by a tracing of causes and effects, and by an attempt to estimate, evaluate, and interpret facts. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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British Dictionary definitions for narrative


an account, report, or story, as of events, experiences, etc
the narrative, the part of a literary work that relates events
the process or technique of narrating
telling a story: a narrative poem
of or relating to narration: narrative art
Derived Forms
narratively, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for narrative

mid-15c., from Middle French narratif, from Late Latin narrativus "suited to narration," from Latin narrat-, stem of narrare (see narration).


"a tale, story," 1560s, from Middle French narrative and from narrative (adj.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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