from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Of small or limited width, especially in comparison with length.
  • adjective Limited in area or scope; cramped.
  • adjective Lacking flexibility; rigid.
  • adjective Barely sufficient; close.
  • adjective Painstakingly thorough or attentive; meticulous.
  • adjective Linguistics Tense.
  • intransitive verb To reduce in width or extent; make narrower.
  • intransitive verb To limit or restrict.
  • intransitive verb To become narrower; contract.
  • noun A part of little width, as a pass through mountains.
  • noun A body of water with little width that connects two larger bodies of water.
  • noun A part of a river or an ocean current that is not wide.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • See nary.
  • Narrowly.
  • To make narrow or contracted; reduce in breadth or scope: as, to narrow one's sphere of action.
  • Specifically In knitting, to reduce the number of stitches of: opposed to widen: as, to narrow a stocking at the toe.
  • To become narrow, literally or figuratively.
  • In the manège, to take less than the proper ground in stepping, or bear out insufficiently to the one hand or the other: said of a horse.
  • In knitting, to reduce the number of stitches, either by knitting two together or by slipping one and binding it over the next: as, when you reach this point you must narrow.
  • Of little width or breadth; measuring relatively little from side to side; not wide or broad: as, a narrow channel or passage; a narrow ribbon.
  • Limited as regards extent, resources, means, sentiment, mental view, scope, individual disposition, or habits, etc.
  • Straitened; limited; impoverished: as, narrow fortune.
  • Contracted; lacking breadth or liberality of view; illiberal; bigoted.
  • Niggardly; avaricious; covetous.
  • Close; bare; so small or close as to be almost inadequate; barely sufficient: as, a narrow majority or escape (that is, a majority so small or an escape so close as almost to fail of being a majority or an escape).
  • Close; near; accurate; scrutinizing; careful; minute.
  • Restricted or brief, with reference to time.
  • Synonyms and Cramped, pinched, scanty, mean.
  • noun A strait; a narrow passage through a mountain, or a narrow channel of water between one sea or lake and another; a sound; any contracted part of a navigable river or harbor: used chiefly in the plural: as, the Narrows at the entrance of New York harbor.
  • noun A contracted part of an ocean current: usually in the plural: as, the narrows of the Gulf Stream at the south point of Florida.
  • noun plural In coal-mining, roadways or galleries driven at right angles to drifts, and smaller than these in section.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Of little breadth; not wide or broad; having little distance from side to side
  • adjective Of little extent; very limited; circumscribed.
  • adjective Having but a little margin; having barely sufficient space, time, or number, etc.; close; near{5}; -- with special reference to some peril or misfortune
  • adjective Limited as to means; straitened; pinching.
  • adjective Contracted; of limited scope; illiberal; bigoted
  • adjective Parsimonious; niggardly; covetous; selfish.
  • adjective Scrutinizing in detail; close; accurate; exact.
  • adjective (Phon.) Formed (as a vowel) by a close position of some part of the tongue in relation to the palate; or (according to Bell) by a tense condition of the pharynx; -- distinguished from wide; as ē (ēve) and � (f�d), etc., from ĭ (ĭll) and � (f�t), etc. See Guide to Pronunciation, §13.
  • adjective (Railroad) See Note under Gauge, n., 6.
  • noun A narrow passage; esp., a contracted part of a stream, lake, or sea; a strait connecting two bodies of water; -- usually in the plural.
  • intransitive verb To become less broad; to contract; to become narrower.
  • intransitive verb (Man.) Not to step out enough to the one hand or the other.
  • intransitive verb (Knitting) To contract the size of a stocking or other knit article, by taking two stitches into one.
  • transitive verb To lessen the breadth of; to contract; to draw into a smaller compass; to reduce the width or extent of.
  • transitive verb To contract the reach or sphere of; to make less liberal or more selfish; to limit; to confine; to restrict
  • transitive verb (Knitting) To contract the size of, as a stocking, by taking two stitches into one.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective having a small width; not wide; slim; slender; having opposite edges or sides that are close, especially by comparison to length or depth.
  • adjective figuratively Restrictive; without flexibility or latitude.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English narwe, from Old English nearu.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English narow, narowe, narewe, narwe, naru, from Old English nearu ("narrow, strait, confined, constricted, not spacious, limited, petty; limited, poor, restricted; oppressive, causing anxiety (of that which restricts free action of body or mind), causing or accompanied by difficulty, hardship, oppressive; oppressed, not having free action; strict, severe"), from Proto-Germanic *narwaz (“constricted, narrow”), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)ner- (“to turn, bend, twist, constrict”). Cognate with Scots naro, narow, narrow ("narrow"), North Frisian naar, noar, noor ("narrow"), West Frisian near ("narrow"), Dutch naar ("dismal, bleak, ill, sick"), Low German naar ("dismal, ghastly"), German Narbe ("a closed wound, scar"), Norwegian norve ("a clip, staple"), Icelandic njörva- ("narrow-", in compounds).


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  • "David, you are _not_ big; you are narrow, narrow, _narrow_!

    The Grafters Francis Lynde 1893

  • But to keep the definition narrow was the original compromise ... without which an agreement wouldn't have been possible, Tripathi said.

    Reuters: Top News 2011

  • But they do not want to get trapped in what they call a narrow strategy.

    CNN Transcript Oct 8, 2008 2008

  • It sounds like he just sort of grabbed on and whooshed down the tunnel—what we call the narrow path—right along with you.

    Night World No. 2 L.J. SMITH 1997

  • For it is ever the temptation of young life to think lightly of their father's wisdom, and to despise what they call the narrow religious beliefs, and the careful moral scruples of the old, and to fancy that they know all things so much better than those who have gone before.

    Men of the Bible; Some Lesser-Known Characters George Milligan

  • Farhat has repeatedly tried to bypass what he calls a "narrow view" of the Internet by the Ministry of Telecommunications.

    Reuters: Press Release 2011

  • He critiqued the U.S. media for what he described as a narrow vision that does not include much international news. 2011

  • Germany is demanding what it describes as a "narrow" revision of the Lisbon treaty to ensure new fiscal rules for the eurozone are placed on a legal basis.

    The Guardian World News Nicholas Watt 2011

  • In this case the translation of the English word narrow to German.

    KDE UserBase - Recent changes [en] 2010

  • School of Management professor Douglas Rae, a former city chief administrative officer, criticizes the Board of Aldermen for pursuing what he calls narrow-minded measures rather than policies beneficial to the entire city.

    Yale Daily News: Latest Issue 2009


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  • A narrow word, having none of the letters projecting above or below the line. Two of the longest such words are overnervousness and overnumerousness (and their plurals).

    December 1, 2007