[ nar-oh ]
See synonyms for: narrownarrowednarrowernarrowest on

adjective,nar·row·er, nar·row·est.
  1. of little breadth or width; not broad or wide; not as wide as usual or expected: a narrow path.

  2. limited in extent or space; affording little room: narrow quarters.

  1. limited in range or scope: a narrow sampling of public opinion.

  2. lacking breadth of view or sympathy, as persons, the mind, or ideas: a narrow man, knowing only his professional specialty;a narrow mind.

  3. with little margin to spare; barely adequate or successful; close: a narrow escape.

  4. careful, thorough, or minute, as a scrutiny, search, or inquiry.

  5. limited in amount; small; meager: narrow resources.

  6. characterized by limited means; straitened; impoverished: Since work was scarce, he soon found himself in narrow circumstances.

  7. New England. stingy or parsimonious.

  8. Phonetics.

    • (of a vowel) articulated with the tongue laterally constricted, as the ee of beet, the oo of boot, etc.; tense.: Compare lax1 (def. 7).

    • (of a phonetic transcription) utilizing a unique symbol for each phoneme and whatever supplementary diacritics are needed to indicate its subphonemic varieties.: Compare broad (def. 14).

  9. (of livestock feeds) proportionately rich in protein.

verb (used without object)
  1. to decrease in width or breadth: This is where the road narrows.

verb (used with object)
  1. to make narrower.

  2. to limit or restrict (often followed by down): to narrow an area of search;to narrow down a contest to three competitors.

  1. to make narrow-minded: Living in that village has narrowed him.

  1. a narrow part, place, or thing.

  2. a narrow part of a valley, passage, or road.

  1. narrows, (used with a singular or plural verb) a narrow part of a strait, river, ocean current, etc.

  2. the Narrows, a narrow strait from upper to lower New York Bay, between Staten Island and Long Island. 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) long; 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) wide.

Origin of narrow

First recorded before 900; Middle English narw(e), nareu(e), narow(e), Old English nearu (inflectional stem nearw- ), cognate with Old Saxon naru “narrow,” Dutch naar “dismal, unpleasant,” Old Saxon naro, naru “narrow, depressing”; possibly akin to German Narbe “scar,” literally, “narrow mark”

Other words for narrow

Other words from narrow

  • nar·row·ly, adverb
  • nar·row·ness, noun
  • o·ver·nar·row, adjective
  • o·ver·nar·row·ly, adverb
  • o·ver·nar·row·ness, noun
  • un·nar·row, adjective
  • un·nar·row·ly, adverb
  • un·nar·rowed, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use narrow in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for narrow


/ (ˈnærəʊ) /

  1. small in breadth, esp in comparison to length

  2. limited in range or extent

  1. limited in outlook; lacking breadth of vision

  2. limited in means or resources; meagre: narrow resources

  3. barely adequate or successful (esp in the phrase a narrow escape)

  4. painstakingly thorough; minute: a narrow scrutiny

  5. finance denoting an assessment of liquidity as including notes and coin in circulation with the public, banks' till money, and banks' balances: narrow money Compare broad (def. 14)

  6. dialect overcareful with money; parsimonious

  7. phonetics

    • another word for tense 1 (def. 4)

    • relating to or denoting a transcription used to represent phonetic rather than phonemic distinctions

    • another word for close 1 (def. 21)

  8. (of agricultural feeds) especially rich in protein

  9. narrow squeak informal an escape only just managed

  1. to make or become narrow; limit; restrict

  1. a narrow place, esp a pass or strait

Origin of narrow

Old English nearu; related to Old Saxon naru

Derived forms of narrow

  • narrowly, adverb
  • narrowness, noun

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Other Idioms and Phrases with narrow


In addition to the idiom beginning with narrow

  • narrow escape

, see

  • straight and narrow

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.