Definition of narrow in English:



  • 1(especially of something that is considerably longer or higher than it is wide) of small width.

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

    ‘his ability to get good results within narrow constraints of money and manpower’
    • ‘Excellent idea, but I feel his scope is too narrow.’
    • ‘Thus, parental support, though narrower in scope, reflects attachment bonds.’
    • ‘Her discussion is wide-ranging, whereas the focus of this comment will be narrow.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It's easy to become an ‘expert’ when the scope is narrow and you are part of the rule-maker set.’
    • ‘Well, basically, ours is a little more narrow in scope.’
    • ‘Other areas of contact included occupational, residential, civic and political contacts, all of which were narrow in scope.’
    • ‘After the meeting Epp expressed concern about the relatively narrow range of questions.’
    • ‘Perhaps it is simply an attempt to keep their topic narrow enough to explore thoroughly.’
    • ‘I didn't mean to imply that your statements were narrow in scope.’
    • ‘The applicant's construction gives it a very narrow scope, virtually limited to prohibiting what is already an offence under the general criminal law.’
    • ‘Artists interested in saturation effects usually paint in a fairly narrow range of hues.’
    • ‘However, this review will be narrower in its focus by summarizing the randomized clinical trials.’
    • ‘The political spectrum has become narrower with the ideological battleground moving to the right.’
    • ‘In both cases, liberty refers to the freedom of person within comparatively narrow confines.’
    • ‘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 lacking willingness or ability to appreciate alternative views.
      ‘companies fail through their narrow view of what contributes to profit’
      • ‘There are many objections that spring to mind - is that not a narrow view, intolerant, prejudicial to the good health of society?’
      • ‘First, the their opinion is remarkably narrow.’
      • ‘The theatre is also reviving three short plays in the hope that it will help enlighten people about narrow mindsets, prejudice, parochialism etc.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In contrast to British music's narrow mindset, Jamaica has always embraced the most outlandish musical idiosyncrasies imaginable.’
      • ‘The perception of lactose intolerance as a health problem is a rather narrow Western view.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘These expectations are often narrow, oversimplified, and quite rigid.’
      • ‘It obliges us to be stripped of our illusions, our narrow and self-serving views.’
      • ‘If a group leader's philosophy and beliefs are narrow and one-sided, then back away.’
      • ‘Passion and commitment can be rather focused, occasionally ranging into the narrow point of view.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘His dissent gives clear insight into his limited, narrow view of individual liberties.’
      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
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    2. 2.2Precise or strict in meaning.
      ‘some of the narrower definitions of democracy’
      • ‘Blues has tended to suffer because a narrow definition stereotypes the format as depressing where songs entail losing women, jobs and dogs.’
      • ‘Since then, some critics have objected to the editors' contentious remarks and their narrow definition of Asian American literature.’
      • ‘He is a conservative in this strict and narrow sense.’
      • ‘But history should not be understood in a narrow sense.’
      • ‘Although the Old Testament is a literature about an ancient people called Israel, it is not simply a national literature in any narrow sense.’
      • ‘Here I am thinking primarily of ethical difficulties, not linguistic or literary difficulties in the narrow sense.’
      • ‘In most cases such judgement starts from a rather narrow definition of culture.’
      • ‘Judges would ask only whether the decision maker had ‘jurisdiction’ (in a very narrow sense) to make his decision.’
      • ‘I am not arguing for a narrow definition of graphic design.’
      • ‘Do you think that people who are bothered by your films are working from an excessively narrow definition of comedy?’
      • ‘Such protectionist perspectives and narrow definitions of critical media literacy set themselves against the pleasures the media provide.’
      • ‘But the definitions are so narrow that it doesn't include everyone.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It appears that he is referring to ‘frequent reader’ rather than a narrow definition of literacy.’
      • ‘First, in the narrow economic sense, fond memories of the pre-1980 protectionist regimes are often evoked.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They have extremely narrow definitions of good music.’
      • ‘But I must say it's a very narrow definition of comfort.’
      • ‘In the PC world of academia, that definition can become awfully narrow.’
      • ‘But unfortunately, all that goes under the name of progress does not truly represent progress, even in the narrow economic sense of the term.’
      strict, literal, exact, precise, close, faithful, true
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    3. 2.3(of a phonetic transcription) showing fine details of accent.
      • ‘Many of the examples in this book are in fact given in such a narrow transcription.’
      • ‘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.’
    4. 2.4Phonetics 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.’
      • ‘For example, if a syllable ends in a narrow vowel (ie i or e) then the following syllable must begin with a narrow vowel.’
      • ‘A narrow diphthong has less movement: in RP, the vowel of day, which moves from half-close to close.’
  • 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 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.’
    • ‘The Lions escaped with a narrow four-point victory, topping Waterloo 73-69.’
    • ‘Falcon retakes the lead here, though its margins of victory remain narrow.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘We must not allow the narrow margin of victory to become a source of greater conflict in society.’
    • ‘So one narrow defeat, by a mere one goal margin, made a world of difference to the team's eventual standing.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Wellstone lost that election, but the campaign was an important step toward his narrow victory in the 1990 U.S. Senate race.’
    • ‘Instant polls following the debate suggested a narrow win for Obama.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The margin of victory was surprisingly narrow, at just over 5 per cent.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘They managed to snatch a narrow victory from the jaws of defeat, but his handsome majority was slashed from 164 to just 35.’
    • ‘Brisbane's narrow win was marred by a refereeing controversy in the 32nd minute.’
    • ‘Suddenly, the Claytons were looking at possible defeat rather than a narrow victory.’


  • 1Become or make less wide.

    [no object] ‘the road narrowed and crossed an old bridge’
    [with object] ‘the embankment was built to narrow the river’
    • ‘I am sure pavements along this stretch are too wide and could be narrowed so as to accommodate the bus lane.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The roughly oval outline, which narrows to a neck at the bottom, defines a head that is fused with the cityscape.’
    • ‘From this haunted ridge the road curves down to Tiquina, where the lake narrows to a strait less than a kilometer wide.’
    • ‘Anyhow, we posted the box, but it's too wide. Could you narrow it by a half inch or so?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The inhaled bronchodilators relieve only the airway narrowing from spasm of the bronchial smooth muscle.’
    • ‘The road narrowed briefly to one lane and even at 2.30 pm this caused a bit of build-up.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It narrows to such a degree that there is a risk of becoming wedged by the surge.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘If you can take advantage of their poor judgement, you can gradually narrow the gap.’
    • ‘But at the bottom of the pay scale, the gap narrows to just 6%, the figures show.’
    • ‘Decongestants cause the blood vessels in the nose to narrow which reduces the volume of blood reaching the nose lining.’
    • ‘Bumper to bumper we proceeded, the road narrowed and things became hairy.’
    • ‘‘The gap is getting wider, not narrowing and this is an area that is causing some concern for us,’ he said.’
    • ‘The steel barrier starts at the top of the hill where the roadway narrows to one lane eastbound toward the bridge.’
    • ‘He had been told that the gorge narrowed to the point where only the river could pass in regions.’
    • ‘Plaque can grow and can considerably narrow the artery, so the artery becomes constricted and the elasticity is reduced.’
    • ‘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.’
    become narrower, get narrower, make narrower, become smaller, get smaller, make smaller, taper, diminish, decrease, reduce, contract, shrink, constrict
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    1. 1.1Almost close (one's eyes) so as to focus on something or someone, or to indicate anger, suspicion, or other emotion.
      [with object] ‘she narrowed her eyes at him suspiciously’
      [no object] ‘Jake's eyes had narrowed to pinpoints’
      • ‘Derek's face was twisted into a combative snarl, eyes narrowed in anger.’
      • ‘His eyes widened immediately seeing the fat lip, they narrowed in anger immediately.’
      • ‘Eddie's blue gaze was narrowed in absolute fury.’
      • ‘Crystal drew it as fast as she could, eyes narrowed to slits in anger.’
      • ‘And those same blue eyes widened in understanding before narrowing in hatred.’
      • ‘She nodded, eyes narrowing slightly in suspicion.’
      • ‘She was still reading that Emily Dickinson book, her green eyes narrowed in concentration.’
      • ‘Gwyn's eyes widened in shock, then narrowed dangerously.’
      • ‘"It's about us, " he began but her eyes cut back to him sharply narrowing suspiciously.’
      • ‘As she locked eyes with him, her own eyes narrowed in disgust.’
      • ‘Jordan just watched his retreating back with her eyes narrowed in suspicion.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Her eyes widen in surprise at his words before they narrowed in anger.’
      • ‘Her eyes narrowed into her infamous glare, and the woman was riled enough to fight back.’
      • ‘His eyes narrowed in thought as he pulled his head away from the second microscope.’
      • ‘My eyes are narrowed in annoyance, his are wide with teasing.’
      • ‘And those widened eyes narrowed to slits in an instant, anger flashing in that faded gaze.’
      • ‘He finally turned, his red-rimmed eyes narrowing in anger.’
      • ‘Jason looked back at her, his eyes narrowed in confusion.’
      become narrow, become narrower, become tight, become tighter, become pinched
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  • 2Become or make more limited or restricted in extent or scope.

    [no object] ‘their trade surplus narrowed to $70 million in January’
    [with object] ‘New England had narrowed Denver's lead from 13 points to 4’
    • ‘The Justice Department's proposed interpretation of the law would radically narrow its scope.’
    • ‘These opportunities are not narrowed to the chosen few in select parties.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In sum, the institutions were historically narrow in scope and have eroded further because of state interventions.’
    • ‘Twenty-five contestants entered and the field was narrowed to five finalists.’
    • ‘With the way security was now, even eye color could severely narrow down suspects.’
    • ‘But most prevention programs have been extremely narrow in scope.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But it's too narrow a scope, and we've got to start contending.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘If this survey was narrowed to look at Londoners only, the problem might become more apparent.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘There have been several more decisions since then, but most have been very narrow in scope.’
    • ‘Thirdly, some States have passed implementing legislation that in fact restricts or narrows the scope of grounds of jurisdiction laid down in international treaties.’
    • ‘First, the scope of censorship has narrowed to such an extent that entire domains are now almost a free-for-all.’
    • ‘During World War I the term was narrowed to mean an individual's total renunciation of war and social violence.’
    • ‘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
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  • A narrow channel connecting two larger areas of water.

    ‘a basaltic fang rising from the narrows of the Upper Missouri’
    • ‘On the afternoon of May 14, Glenure crossed the narrows of Loch Leven from Callart by the old Ballachulish ferry en route to Kentallan.’
    • ‘The fort is situated at the southern end of Lake Champlain where the narrows lead into Lake George.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He was fishing up on the currents near the narrows.’
    • ‘Since the Gorge is a tidal waterway, the current from the narrows shoots crews out.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘We continue, without rest, for several identical pitches, through the narrows, to the first apron above the cliffs.’
    • ‘That sense of island is heightened when you travel to Ardgour on the little ferry that plies across the Corran narrows of Loch Linnhe.’
    • ‘In 1564 Suleiman ‘the Magnificent’ ordered his general Mustafa Pasha to seize Malta, which dominated the narrows between Sicily and Africa.’
    • ‘However, take your boat up past the cages and through the narrows, and the loch opens up into an even more spectacular vista.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘When the caribou were coming, you could see them on the lake - on the narrows.’
    • ‘Huge waves were breaking on the barrier reef and the narrows at the eastern entrance of the channel were like a boiling cauldron.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This is why most of the major sea battles took place between the narrows of Tunis and Sicily.’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘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.’
    sound, neck, channel, waterway, passage, sea passage
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Phrasal Verbs

  • narrow something down

    • Reduce the number of possibilities or options of something.

      ‘the company has narrowed down the candidates for the job to two’
      • ‘If he could figure out the brand of the cigarette, he could narrow down his suspects.’
      • ‘During my internship, I was able to narrow down exactly what I wanted to do with my career.’
      • ‘Now we are able to narrow down likely suspects in a very short space of time.’
      • ‘Her investigations narrow the suspects down to two possibilities.’
      • ‘We have narrowed it down to three options from a consultant s report.’
      • ‘While she is still undecided on her career choice, her options have been narrowed down to journalism and management.’
      • ‘So far I've narrowed the options down to ten papers.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I had narrowed it down to four options when the waiter approached our table.’


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