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.
  3. limited in range or scope: a narrow sampling of public opinion.
  4. lacking breadth of view or sympathy, as persons, the mind, or ideas: a narrow man, knowing only his professional specialty; a narrow mind.
  5. with little margin to spare; barely adequate or successful; close: a narrow escape.
  6. careful, thorough, or minute, as a scrutiny, search, or inquiry.
  7. limited in amount; small; meager: narrow resources.
  8. straitened; impoverished: narrow circumstances.
  9. New England. stingy or parsimonious.
  10. Phonetics.
    1. (of a vowel) articulated with the tongue laterally constricted, as the ee of beet, the oo of boot, etc.; tense.Compare lax(def 7).
    2. (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).
  11. (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.
  3. 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.
  3. narrows, (used with a singular or plural verb) a narrow part of a strait, river, ocean current, etc.
  4. The Narrows, a narrow strait from upper to lower New York Bay, between Staten Island and Long Island. 2 miles (3.2 km) long; 1 mile (1.6 km) wide.


  1. small in breadth, esp in comparison to length
  2. limited in range or extent
  3. limited in outlook; lacking breadth of vision
  4. limited in means or resources; meagrenarrow resources
  5. barely adequate or successful (esp in the phrase a narrow escape)
  6. painstakingly thorough; minutea narrow scrutiny
  7. finance denoting an assessment of liquidity as including notes and coin in circulation with the public, banks’ till money, and banks’ balancesnarrow money Compare broad (def. 14)
  8. dialect overcareful with money; parsimonious
  9. phonetics
    1. another word for tense 1 (def. 4)
    2. relating to or denoting a transcription used to represent phonetic rather than phonemic distinctions
    3. another word for close 1 (def. 21)
  10. (of agricultural feeds) especially rich in protein
  11. 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

adj.Old English nearu “narrow, constricted, limited; petty; causing difficulty, oppressive; strict, severe,” from West Germanic *narwaz “narrowness” (cf. Frisian nar, Old Saxon naru, Middle Dutch nare, Dutch naar); not found in other Germanic languages and of unknown origin. The narrow seas (c.1400) were the waters between Great Britain and the continent and Ireland. Related: Narrowness. v.Old English nearwian “to force in, cramp, confine; become smaller, shrink;” see narrow (adj.). Related: Narrowed; narrowing. n.c.1200, nearewe “narrow part, place, or thing,” from narrow (adj.). Old English nearu (n.) meant “danger, distress, difficulty,” also “prison, hiding place.” In addition to the idiom beginning with narrow

  • narrow escape
  • , see

  • straight and narrow
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