Definition of narrow in English:

narrow

adjective

  • 1Of small width in relation to length.

    ‘he made his way down the narrow road’
    • ‘In some cases, relatively narrow streets have been provided as alternate routes, compromising road safety.’
    • ‘Fabric is woven in relatively narrow widths and long lengths, cut and assembled side-to-side for garments, blankets and other textile uses.’
    • ‘Shin length pants, narrow or flared at the bottom.’
    • ‘The only break in the stockade is a narrow passageway that zigzags up the middle.’
    • ‘They turned back down the hill and rode through the narrow passageway into the city.’
    • ‘The chair is also capable of being pushed down the aisle due to its very narrow track width.’
    • ‘The mass of soldiers squirmed through the all too narrow alleyway as they escaped from the ambush.’
    • ‘Bob squeezed his muscular shoulders into the narrow confines of the top turret.’
    • ‘A border is a dividing line, a narrow strip along a steep edge.’
    • ‘In particular, the sleeves were just the right width - not too narrow, not too flappy.’
    • ‘Legroom is abundant for the front and middle seats although the latter are a bit narrow.’
    • ‘We climbed a narrow path and entered an area of flat, rocky ground.’
    • ‘They rushed out of the narrow passageway and came out of the cave.’
    • ‘The road was very narrow where we stood and we were incredibly close to the athletes.’
    • ‘I was on a good but rather narrow road when the phone rang.’
    • ‘The roads are very narrow, and the drivers are very aggressive.’
    • ‘The driver nodded once and pressed a narrow strip of metal to the floor.’
    • ‘The notch is wide at the bottom and narrow at the top.’
    • ‘Laminate flooring is made of long, narrow lengths of high-density fibre, generally with a photograph of wood on top, coated with an acrylic lacquer.’
    • ‘Their main complaint is the fact that the actual roadway is too narrow to accommodate the traffic using it.’
    small, tapered, tapering, narrowing, narrow-gauged
    slender, slim, lean, slight, spare, attenuated, thin
    confined, cramped, tight, close, restricted, limited, constricted, confining, pinched, squeezed, meagre, scant, scanty, spare
    View synonyms
  • 2Limited in extent, amount, or scope.

    ‘they ate a narrow range of foods’
    • ‘The applicant's construction gives it a very narrow scope, virtually limited to prohibiting what is already an offence under the general criminal law.’
    • ‘Perhaps it is simply an attempt to keep their topic narrow enough to explore thoroughly.’
    • ‘It's easy to become an ‘expert’ when the scope is narrow and you are part of the rule-maker set.’
    • ‘After the meeting Epp expressed concern about the relatively narrow range of questions.’
    • ‘Artists interested in saturation effects usually paint in a fairly narrow range of hues.’
    • ‘Well, basically, ours is a little more narrow in scope.’
    • ‘I didn't mean to imply that your statements were narrow in scope.’
    • ‘Thus, parental support, though narrower in scope, reflects attachment bonds.’
    • ‘In both cases, liberty refers to the freedom of person within comparatively narrow confines.’
    • ‘Other areas of contact included occupational, residential, civic and political contacts, all of which were narrow in scope.’
    • ‘We do believe that he continues to operate in a fairly narrow range.’
    • ‘Provincial co-management regimes are typically narrow in scope as well as limited in formal powers.’
    • ‘Her discussion is wide-ranging, whereas the focus of this comment will be narrow.’
    • ‘Excellent idea, but I feel his scope is too narrow.’
    • ‘The political spectrum has become narrower with the ideological battleground moving to the right.’
    • ‘However, this review will be narrower in its focus by summarizing the randomized clinical trials.’
    • ‘Like others, we have huge concerns about scopes of practice becoming narrow and restrictive.’
    limited, restricted, circumscribed, straitened, small, inadequate, insufficient, deficient, lacking, wanting
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    1. 2.1 (of a person's attitude or beliefs) limited in range and unwilling or unable to appreciate alternative views.
      ‘companies fail through their narrow view of what contributes to profit’
      • ‘It obliges us to be stripped of our illusions, our narrow and self-serving views.’
      • ‘His dissent gives clear insight into his limited, narrow view of individual liberties.’
      • ‘It's a fine moment, and one that could have been looked at more closely, especially considering the film's rather narrow view of music history.’
      • ‘This collection showed a diverse range of women as ‘beautiful’ versus the more narrow view from mainstream media.’
      • ‘In contrast to British music's narrow mindset, Jamaica has always embraced the most outlandish musical idiosyncrasies imaginable.’
      • ‘I never watched the latter, so am open to other's views, but it seemed to represent the stubborn, old-fashioned views of a narrow bigot.’
      • ‘Passion and commitment can be rather focused, occasionally ranging into the narrow point of view.’
      • ‘I would argue that these groups merely express, if in a more explicit form, the narrow outlook and low horizons of Western politics more broadly today.’
      • ‘The theatre is also reviving three short plays in the hope that it will help enlighten people about narrow mindsets, prejudice, parochialism etc.’
      • ‘These expectations are often narrow, oversimplified, and quite rigid.’
      • ‘It was a man's world, and being a man of his time, he had very narrow beliefs and lived in a totally egocentric world.’
      • ‘But both have such a narrow and pessimistic view of human potential that they believe rigorous selection will identify the few who might prove useful to the economic system.’
      • ‘Those who accuse us of social engineering often have very narrow, rigid view about the way the world should be and everyone should conform with that.’
      • ‘First, the their opinion is remarkably narrow.’
      • ‘The perception of lactose intolerance as a health problem is a rather narrow Western view.’
      • ‘If a group leader's philosophy and beliefs are narrow and one-sided, then back away.’
      • ‘There are many objections that spring to mind - is that not a narrow view, intolerant, prejudicial to the good health of society?’
      • ‘It suffices to say that he clearly has a narrow view of marketing and it's goal: to give the right people the value they want, where they want it, by telling them about it.’
      • ‘This existing mindset is narrow, but perhaps at this point, this is understandable, given the previous situation and intimidation.’
      • ‘The mass media are hindered by a narrow view of gender, and by limited, stereotyped representations of ethnic minorities.’
      intolerant, illiberal, reactionary, conservative, ultra-conservative, conventional, parochial, provincial, insular, small-town, localist, small-minded, petty-minded, petty, close-minded, short-sighted, myopic, blinkered, inward-looking, hidebound, dyed-in-the-wool, diehard, limited, restricted, inflexible, dogmatic, rigid, entrenched, prejudiced, bigoted, biased, partisan, sectarian, discriminatory
      View synonyms
    2. 2.2 Precise or strict in meaning.
      ‘the idea of nationalism in the narrowest sense of the word’
      • ‘Do you think that people who are bothered by your films are working from an excessively narrow definition of comedy?’
      • ‘It's a narrow definition of freedom, yes, but necessary under the circumstances, we've all been told a hundred times if we've been told once.’
      • ‘I am not arguing for a narrow definition of graphic design.’
      • ‘But unfortunately, all that goes under the name of progress does not truly represent progress, even in the narrow economic sense of the term.’
      • ‘Judges would ask only whether the decision maker had ‘jurisdiction’ (in a very narrow sense) to make his decision.’
      • ‘Such protectionist perspectives and narrow definitions of critical media literacy set themselves against the pleasures the media provide.’
      • ‘He is a conservative in this strict and narrow sense.’
      • ‘Blues has tended to suffer because a narrow definition stereotypes the format as depressing where songs entail losing women, jobs and dogs.’
      • ‘In most cases such judgement starts from a rather narrow definition of culture.’
      • ‘They have extremely narrow definitions of good music.’
      • ‘But the definitions are so narrow that it doesn't include everyone.’
      • ‘Since then, some critics have objected to the editors' contentious remarks and their narrow definition of Asian American literature.’
      • ‘Clearly, it is not possible - and this is again a bureaucratic problem - for the military to define security in terms other than its own narrow definition of it.’
      • ‘Although the Old Testament is a literature about an ancient people called Israel, it is not simply a national literature in any narrow sense.’
      • ‘But history should not be understood in a narrow sense.’
      • ‘In the PC world of academia, that definition can become awfully narrow.’
      • ‘It appears that he is referring to ‘frequent reader’ rather than a narrow definition of literacy.’
      • ‘Here I am thinking primarily of ethical difficulties, not linguistic or literary difficulties in the narrow sense.’
      • ‘First, in the narrow economic sense, fond memories of the pre-1980 protectionist regimes are often evoked.’
      • ‘But I must say it's a very narrow definition of comfort.’
      strict, literal, exact, precise, close, faithful, true
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    3. 2.3 (of a phonetic transcription) showing fine details of accent.
      • ‘The large number of diacritics makes it possible to mark minute shades of sound as required for a narrow phonetic transcription.’
      • ‘A narrow phonetic transcription of the yaourt lyrics will show how various formal features are employed to create the semblance of English.’
      • ‘Many of the examples in this book are in fact given in such a narrow transcription.’
  • 3Denoting or relating to a contest that is won or lost by only a very small margin.

    ‘the home team just hung on for a narrow victory’
    • ‘The Lions escaped with a narrow four-point victory, topping Waterloo 73-69.’
    • ‘They managed to snatch a narrow victory from the jaws of defeat, but his handsome majority was slashed from 164 to just 35.’
    • ‘The Tories marshalled their forces, undermined the shadow budget before it was published and squeaked a narrow victory despite an economy struggling to emerge from a long recession.’
    • ‘Suddenly, the Claytons were looking at possible defeat rather than a narrow victory.’
    • ‘Wellstone lost that election, but the campaign was an important step toward his narrow victory in the 1990 U.S. Senate race.’
    • ‘Newcastle Falcons started the day six points adrift of Bath at the bottom of the table but yesterday's result and Bath's narrow defeat by Leicester has seen that deficit cut to just two points.’
    • ‘Falcon retakes the lead here, though its margins of victory remain narrow.’
    • ‘Another defeat for the maroon and white in what has been a disappointing year for the county with a number of very narrow defeats in various grades along the way.’
    • ‘The two major parties at the first federal elections were free-traders and protectionists, with the latter securing a narrow victory, though not a parliamentary majority.’
    • ‘Instant polls following the debate suggested a narrow win for Obama.’
    • ‘The margin of victory was surprisingly narrow, at just over 5 per cent.’
    • ‘Both of the propositions passed easily, despite reports by pollsters in January and February predicting a narrow victory for one of the measures and likely defeat for the other.’
    • ‘So one narrow defeat, by a mere one goal margin, made a world of difference to the team's eventual standing.’
    • ‘We must not allow the narrow margin of victory to become a source of greater conflict in society.’
    • ‘Brisbane's narrow win was marred by a refereeing controversy in the 32nd minute.’
  • 4Phonetics
    Denoting a vowel pronounced with the root of the tongue drawn back so as to narrow the pharynx.

    • ‘Some of the numerals end with a narrow vowel ‘i’, and this fact is closely related to the intelligibility.’
    • ‘A narrow diphthong has less movement: in RP, the vowel of day, which moves from half-close to close.’
    • ‘For example, if a syllable ends in a narrow vowel (ie i or e) then the following syllable must begin with a narrow vowel.’

verb

  • 1Become or make less wide.

    no object ‘the road narrowed and crossed an old bridge’
    with object ‘the Victoria Embankment was built to narrow the river’
    • ‘The steel barrier starts at the top of the hill where the roadway narrows to one lane eastbound toward the bridge.’
    • ‘But at the bottom of the pay scale, the gap narrows to just 6%, the figures show.’
    • ‘From this haunted ridge the road curves down to Tiquina, where the lake narrows to a strait less than a kilometer wide.’
    • ‘The inhaled bronchodilators relieve only the airway narrowing from spasm of the bronchial smooth muscle.’
    • ‘Decongestants cause the blood vessels in the nose to narrow which reduces the volume of blood reaching the nose lining.’
    • ‘He had been told that the gorge narrowed to the point where only the river could pass in regions.’
    • ‘If you can take advantage of their poor judgement, you can gradually narrow the gap.’
    • ‘There are fireworks that resemble silver flying fishes as they soar upwards with a loud hiss, leaving behind a fiery trail that narrows to a dot and explodes in a flash of yellow-red flame.’
    • ‘I am sure pavements along this stretch are too wide and could be narrowed so as to accommodate the bus lane.’
    • ‘Plaque can grow and can considerably narrow the artery, so the artery becomes constricted and the elasticity is reduced.’
    • ‘Moving up inside the Canyon is exciting, as the gully narrows to an S-bend that is soon wide enough for only one diver at a time.’
    • ‘Beyond Nakalele the road grows more scenic as it narrows to barely a lane and a half wide in places; go slow and honk on blind hairpin turns.’
    • ‘‘The gap is getting wider, not narrowing and this is an area that is causing some concern for us,’ he said.’
    • ‘The roughly oval outline, which narrows to a neck at the bottom, defines a head that is fused with the cityscape.’
    • ‘The point itself is a massive coral sand bluff that narrows to a reef as it slips needlelike into the sea amid waves and colliding currents.’
    • ‘Bumper to bumper we proceeded, the road narrowed and things became hairy.’
    • ‘The road narrowed briefly to one lane and even at 2.30 pm this caused a bit of build-up.’
    • ‘The pace soon slows as the road narrows to a rocky rollercoaster single track, changing often and abruptly and leaving most newcomers flailing for gears.’
    • ‘Anyhow, we posted the box, but it's too wide. Could you narrow it by a half inch or so?’
    • ‘It narrows to such a degree that there is a risk of becoming wedged by the surge.’
    become narrower, get narrower, make narrower, become smaller, get smaller, make smaller, taper, diminish, decrease, reduce, contract, shrink, constrict
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Almost close (one's eyes) so as to focus on something, or to indicate anger or other emotion.
      with object ‘she narrowed her eyes at him suspiciously’
      no object ‘her eyes narrowed as she looked at him’
      • ‘He finally turned, his red-rimmed eyes narrowing in anger.’
      • ‘Gwyn's eyes widened in shock, then narrowed dangerously.’
      • ‘Jordan just watched his retreating back with her eyes narrowed in suspicion.’
      • ‘Eddie's blue gaze was narrowed in absolute fury.’
      • ‘His eyes widened immediately seeing the fat lip, they narrowed in anger immediately.’
      • ‘She was still reading that Emily Dickinson book, her green eyes narrowed in concentration.’
      • ‘"It's about us, " he began but her eyes cut back to him sharply narrowing suspiciously.’
      • ‘His eyes narrowed in thought as he pulled his head away from the second microscope.’
      • ‘Jason looked back at her, his eyes narrowed in confusion.’
      • ‘And those widened eyes narrowed to slits in an instant, anger flashing in that faded gaze.’
      • ‘Her eyes narrowed into her infamous glare, and the woman was riled enough to fight back.’
      • ‘Crystal drew it as fast as she could, eyes narrowed to slits in anger.’
      • ‘Her eyes widen in surprise at his words before they narrowed in anger.’
      • ‘Her eyes narrowed in concentration as she tied the band loosely over his soft locks.’
      • ‘Stephan looked at me with an incredulous stare, which narrowed into a glare.’
      • ‘She nodded, eyes narrowing slightly in suspicion.’
      • ‘My eyes are narrowed in annoyance, his are wide with teasing.’
      • ‘As she locked eyes with him, her own eyes narrowed in disgust.’
      • ‘Derek's face was twisted into a combative snarl, eyes narrowed in anger.’
      • ‘And those same blue eyes widened in understanding before narrowing in hatred.’
      become narrow, become narrower, become tight, become tighter, become pinched
      View synonyms
  • 2Become or make more limited in extent or scope.

    no object ‘the gap between the sexes is narrowing’
    ‘the trade surplus narrowed to £70 m in January’
    with object ‘the committee narrowed the selection to three designers’
    • ‘I can't say that it is, because part of me feels that admitting that would be to narrow the scope of my world to that of Proust's.’
    • ‘After 6 minutes, this discussion was narrowed to the field of Cesar Salad.’
    • ‘We're narrowed what we carry down to items our customers want.’
    • ‘If this survey was narrowed to look at Londoners only, the problem might become more apparent.’
    • ‘During World War I the term was narrowed to mean an individual's total renunciation of war and social violence.’
    • ‘With the way security was now, even eye color could severely narrow down suspects.’
    • ‘Twenty-five contestants entered and the field was narrowed to five finalists.’
    • ‘As you go higher up the scale you narrow and decrease the scope of your knowledge until you know an enormous amount about very little.’
    • ‘But most prevention programs have been extremely narrow in scope.’
    • ‘First, the scope of censorship has narrowed to such an extent that entire domains are now almost a free-for-all.’
    • ‘Such arguments generate a very narrow and limited way of thinking, making it harder to explore and consider questions about what makes us human, about rights, and so on.’
    • ‘There have been several more decisions since then, but most have been very narrow in scope.’
    • ‘Policymakers, on the other hand, tend to narrow the scope of science to that of a body of technique, or emphasise its links to business.’
    • ‘The Justice Department's proposed interpretation of the law would radically narrow its scope.’
    • ‘It's the attempt to force our brains to do backflips that is making us so hostile: his work cannot be narrowed to something that we can pinpoint.’
    • ‘These opportunities are not narrowed to the chosen few in select parties.’
    • ‘In sum, the institutions were historically narrow in scope and have eroded further because of state interventions.’
    • ‘Thirdly, some States have passed implementing legislation that in fact restricts or narrows the scope of grounds of jurisdiction laid down in international treaties.’
    • ‘But it's too narrow a scope, and we've got to start contending.’
    • ‘Its ambitions are narrowed to those which can be achieved with the least controversy and offend the fewest powerful interests.’
    reduce, curtail, cut, cut down, cut back, prune, pare down, lessen, lower, decrease, shrink, contract, constrict, restrict, limit, curb, check, blunt
    View synonyms

noun

narrows
  • A narrow channel connecting two larger areas of water.

    ‘there was a car ferry across the narrows of Loch Long’
    • ‘He was fishing up on the currents near the narrows.’
    • ‘We drove to the narrows and after a 20-minute hike and three or four river crossings, we spotted a couple climbers cleaning a route on the wall we coveted.’
    • ‘However, take your boat up past the cages and through the narrows, and the loch opens up into an even more spectacular vista.’
    • ‘That sense of island is heightened when you travel to Ardgour on the little ferry that plies across the Corran narrows of Loch Linnhe.’
    • ‘We continue, without rest, for several identical pitches, through the narrows, to the first apron above the cliffs.’
    • ‘In 1564 Suleiman ‘the Magnificent’ ordered his general Mustafa Pasha to seize Malta, which dominated the narrows between Sicily and Africa.’
    • ‘Seas were smoother within the narrows of the Dardanelles and once the kayakers had rounded the Gallipoli peninsular, they were protected from the seasonal north easterly.’
    • ‘This is why most of the major sea battles took place between the narrows of Tunis and Sicily.’
    • ‘The narrows of the big lakes, or eda, were key areas where the Dené sohné knew they could find caribou.’
    • ‘Eventually Elizabeth's fleet ran out of ammunition and withdrew to the narrows of the Channel.’
    • ‘In the Khumbu glacier region, the narrows either side of the Khumbu icefall are leucogranite cliffs beneath the Lhotse Detachment, which ramps down to the east.’
    • ‘The fort is situated at the southern end of Lake Champlain where the narrows lead into Lake George.’
    • ‘These narrows are all still regarded as strategically vital, for they connect the oceans and are the best roads to Antarctica - which is, of course, disputed by Argentina and Chile.’
    • ‘The view, looking across the tide-churned narrows of Strangford Lough to Portaferry's twin village, Strangford, would be worth the detour by itself.’
    • ‘This ‘hill of the thunderbolt’ rises gracefully above the narrows of Loch Leven at Balla-chulish and is a fine looking mountain from whatever direction you view it.’
    • ‘When the caribou were coming, you could see them on the lake - on the narrows.’
    • ‘Since the Gorge is a tidal waterway, the current from the narrows shoots crews out.’
    • ‘Has anyone appreciated that large sailing cruisers will increase the congestion in restricted areas and, with a deeper draught, may not be able to negotiate the narrows around Belle Isle?’
    • ‘On the afternoon of May 14, Glenure crossed the narrows of Loch Leven from Callart by the old Ballachulish ferry en route to Kentallan.’
    • ‘Huge waves were breaking on the barrier reef and the narrows at the eastern entrance of the channel were like a boiling cauldron.’
    strait, straits, sound, neck, channel, waterway, passage, sea passage
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Phrasal Verbs

  • narrow something down

    • Reduce the number of possibilities or options.

      ‘the company has narrowed down the candidates for the job to two’
      • ‘Now we are able to narrow down likely suspects in a very short space of time.’
      • ‘He adds that it has taken months to make progress and narrow options down to two possible sites and he feels it should now be made a general election issue by townspeople.’
      • ‘Post again if you need help narrowing down the options for a specific location.’
      • ‘We have narrowed it down to three options from a consultant s report.’
      • ‘I had narrowed it down to four options when the waiter approached our table.’
      • ‘During my internship, I was able to narrow down exactly what I wanted to do with my career.’
      • ‘If he could figure out the brand of the cigarette, he could narrow down his suspects.’
      • ‘So far I've narrowed the options down to ten papers.’
      • ‘While she is still undecided on her career choice, her options have been narrowed down to journalism and management.’
      • ‘Her investigations narrow the suspects down to two possibilities.’

Origin

Old English nearu, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch naar ‘dismal, unpleasant’ and German Narbe ‘scar’. Early senses in English included ‘constricted’ and ‘mean’.

Pronunciation

narrow

/ˈnarəʊ/