Definition of narrative in English:



  • 1A spoken or written account of connected events; a story.

    ‘a gripping narrative’
    • ‘Part of this admirably straightforward narrative was written, but not published, as a study for the commission.’
    • ‘An event occurs, and it slowly becomes encrusted with narratives about what happened.’
    • ‘The film's narrative tries to uncover just exactly what his role was.’
    • ‘Such grand narratives frequently obscure the sequence of events they are struggling to explain.’
    • ‘His prose narratives, too, were bestsellers till the 18th century.’
    • ‘Consequently, readers seeking a more traditional chronological narrative of political events might need to look elsewhere.’
    • ‘Many narratives have also been written in more conventional language and forms by Aboriginal authors.’
    • ‘So in other words, they're using the biblical gospel narratives in a symbolic way in these novels.’
    • ‘A five-minute coda tries to wrap up, while leaving nearly all the narrative threads hanging.’
    • ‘We are even more dependent on Rose's selectivity with the pool of first-person narratives.’
    • ‘However, the author's first-person narrative evaporates when the action happens over the horizon.’
    • ‘Similarly, he acknowledges that the slave narratives were always survivors' stories.’
    • ‘A realist third-person narrative, its critical irony comes through in the novel's ambiguous, multivalent ending.’
    • ‘There are, then, three narrative strands.’
    • ‘Their narratives were accounts of how a democratic state had been achieved.’
    • ‘They opt instead for narratives that tell half of the story and narratives that tell an untrue story.’
    • ‘He contends that the mass media help to spread the narratives of history and everyday life which bind people together as a nation.’
    • ‘These were Maori narratives written and read from the position of living in a European country.’
    • ‘They also provide a compelling personal narrative of his life.’
    • ‘Mixing legend and history, he provides a coherent narrative based upon traditional materials.’
    account, story, tale, chronicle, history, description, record, portrayal, sketch, portrait, statement, report, rehearsal, recital, rendering
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    1. 1.1[mass noun]The narrated part of a literary work, as distinct from dialogue.
      ‘the dialogue and the narrative suffer from awkward syntax’
      • ‘Though carefully documented, the book primarily weaves strong narratives filled with lively anecdotes.’
      • ‘It is into this chronological narrative that he interlards verbatim dialogue, transcriptions and notations of the songs.’
      • ‘The book is a compilation of Biblical narrative, rabbinic legends, prayers, homilies and songs.’
      • ‘The story CDs, which are on sale over the internet for £9.99, are made up of narrative, rhymes and songs.’
      • ‘Altogether there are thirty-three narratives and twenty-two opinion statements.’
      • ‘These various narratives are weaved in with combat footage and historical analysis.’
      • ‘It spools out and out of my mouth, narrative, dialogue and commentary.’
      • ‘She's very good at dialogue, and the high ratio of talk to narrative is one reason why her stuff is so readable.’
      • ‘These struggles were only the beginning, as similar feelings about dialogue and narrative nagged the back of my mind.’
      • ‘I was brought in to, essentially, write some voice-over dialogue and narrative for it, to buttress the story.’
      • ‘So, the film is all about the triumph of spectacle over narrative, but sometimes you need just a little bit of narrative to make things worth while.’
    2. 1.2[mass noun]The practice or art of telling stories.
      ‘traditions of oral narrative’
      • ‘Nonfiction narrative is to my mind a higher art because the writer has far more demands put on them by the known facts.’
      • ‘That being said, I'm all for a good story, but narrative and story are two different things.’
      • ‘I have lately been thinking about the lasting effects of modernism and science on religious narrative.’
      • ‘Just as every story needs a preface, a truly erudite narrative simply cannot do without an introduction.’
      • ‘Here is a man who understands the cinematic image, not just as vacuous glamour but as narrative and poetry.’
      • ‘The plot of history may not always be as credible as fictional narrative, but it can be just as fascinating.’
      • ‘They have yet to find a way of really telling a good story rather than just using narrative as a vehicle to get them from one visual gag to another.’
      • ‘When I refer to narrative, I'm talking about story telling and delivery of a story.’
      • ‘It has lots of different strands of narrative which come together in a complete story.’
      • ‘The short story cycle looks back to oral traditions of narrative while embodying signs of modernity.’
      • ‘She says none of the five bite-sized operas is trying to break from traditional narrative.’
      • ‘His chief area of expertise, and the subject he taught when the School became a teaching department, was oral narrative.’
      • ‘It does this by creating an atmosphere that is closer to poetry than to traditional prose narrative.’
      • ‘He does not dress them up with narrative; there is no story, just a jangle of exposed nerve endings.’
      • ‘Perhaps my own tendency to sit with narrative rather than poetry leads me in this direction.’
      • ‘You can define narrative to make it the story or to make it the whole, and you can emphasise different aspects.’
      • ‘In the realm of mythic narrative, the same stories keep getting reincarnated.’
      • ‘It didn't just object to certain kinds of story, but to narrative in general as a promoter of illusion.’
      • ‘These pieces depend on narrative for their lives, animated by the stories we tell about them.’
      • ‘But it is the interest in fictional narrative that comes through most strongly.’
    3. 1.3A representation of a particular situation or process in such a way as to reflect or conform to an overarching set of aims or values.
      ‘the coalition's carefully constructed narrative about its sensitivity to recession victims’
      • ‘The history of the country as a whole "does not fit easily into a standard narrative of democracy" - assuming that there is anything like a "standard narrative of democracy".’
      • ‘It will also depend on the way we conceptualize him and where he fits into our own global narrative.’
      • ‘Constructing an expansive environmental narrative enabled activists to find new ways to seek, and sometimes achieve, long-standing political goals.’
      • ‘This is a simple story that fits nicely into the overall narrative the President has been using already.’
      • ‘American triumph at the end of World War II could reaffirm the master narrative of American conquest.’
      • ‘He was a politician who fatally lacked a grasp of the importance of having a narrative to inspire supporters and enthuse the electorate.’
      • ‘Journalists may love to break news, but they hate to contradict the narratives that crystallize around particular politicians or policies.’
      • ‘American constitutional history was dominated by a whiggish narrative in which progressive forces consistently supportive of civil rights and civil liberties triumphed over the dark forces of reaction.’
      • ‘We have seen this before - the so-called Liberal media framing the narrative to fit Republicans.’
      • ‘Can it really be right to have children when they'll grow up in a world dominated by narratives of social and environmental catastrophe?’
      • ‘The "narrative" that the President was under-achieving "would largely go away", he thought, particularly when health care reform passed.’
      • ‘The point is that with new governments, what we've come to regard as their narrative generally tends to become evident after the event.’
      • ‘The Louisiana chief executive is impossible to dismiss out of hand because he fits into several narratives that make him appealing to conservatives and to independent voters.’
      • ‘The party hopes the raft of policy announcements this week will show that their leader is developing a coherent and imaginative "narrative" that will define his general election campaign.’
      • ‘Official American history diminishes or erases completely these bodies in its ideal narratives of progress.’
      • ‘The bigger picture, however, is of a prime minister and a government that want to be more self-confident but are frustrated at the failure of their 'narrative' to find a more receptive audience.’
      • ‘Especially in this country, we have allowed the development of a narrative in the media which privileges suspicion of domestic politicians over the understanding of global movements.’
      • ‘Labour needs to find a new narrative. And the Conservatives must stick to their story.’
      • ‘Such expectations may have been unrealistic, but it was part of an overall narrative about the Liberal Democrat path to government which depended not only on Liberal Democrat progress, but also Conservative decline.’
      • ‘Historians and politicians skillfully crafted the narrative of an active middle class who (in retrospect) had heroically waged the revolutionary struggle.’


  • In the form of or concerned with narration.

    ‘a narrative poem’
    ‘narrative technique’
    • ‘In essence, it is hard to grasp a true narrative thread in this book.’
    • ‘A review, like a novel, has a narrative arc to it.’
    • ‘The first 11 chapters of Genesis are generally taken as narrative history by young earth creationists.’
    • ‘First, it is too general to be of any use in distinguishing one narrative genre from another.’
    • ‘She is so incidental in her one narrative appearance that she is scarcely noticed.’
    • ‘The middle stretch of poems do have slightly more narrative content or something.’
    • ‘I would have probably continued reading this for the narrative techniques.’
    • ‘Perhaps more surprising than its efficiency as propaganda is the film's excellence as narrative cinema.’
    • ‘Human curiosity seems the obvious answer, and eavesdropping creates that narrative lack which provokes curiosity.’
    • ‘So it would be okay to inject more narrative drive into the story.’
    • ‘As resistant as this is to the imposition of narrative coherence, a feminist ethos is unmistakable.’
    • ‘And I am very happy that you like my characterization, and narrative style.’
    • ‘Much narrative theory explores different ways of conceiving these variables.’
    • ‘But somehow we've lost the narrative thread that ties it all together.’
    • ‘His range has expanded into tackling corners of history and mythology through long narrative stanzas and monologues.’
    • ‘You can view the whole thing as performance art with hints of narrative structure.’
    • ‘But that would have been owed to his two great narrative poems, rather than his plays.’
    • ‘A few more narrative tracks would have maybe filled in this information nicely.’
    • ‘The real narrative subtext here is the restoration of family and the recuperation of a nation and its history.’


Late Middle English (as an adjective): from French narratif, -ive, from late Latin narrativus telling a story, from the verb narrare (see narrate).