English edit

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Pronunciation edit

Etymology 1 edit

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), Saterland Frisian noar (bleak, dismal, meager, ghastly, unwell), Saterland Frisian Naarwe (scar), West Frisian near (narrow), Dutch naar (dismal, bleak, ill, sick), Low German naar (dismal, ghastly), German Nehrung (spit, narrow peninsula), Norwegian norve (a clip, staple), Icelandic narrow- (njörva-, in compounds).

Adjective edit

narrow (comparative narrower, superlative narrowest)

  1. Having a small width; not wide; having opposite edges or sides that are close, especially by comparison to length or depth.
    a narrow hallway
    • 1921, Ben Travers, chapter 1, in A Cuckoo in the Nest, Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Page & Company, published 1925, →OCLC:
      She was like a Beardsley Salome, he had said. And indeed she had the narrow eyes and the high cheekbone of that creature, and as nearly the sinuosity as is compatible with human symmetry.
    • 1963, Margery Allingham, chapter 14, in The China Governess: A Mystery, London: Chatto & Windus, →OCLC:
      Just under the ceiling there were three lunette windows, heavily barred and blacked out in the normal way by centuries of grime. Their bases were on a level with the pavement outside, a narrow way which was several feet lower than the road behind the house.
    • 2013 July-August, Catherine Clabby, “Focus on Everything”, in American Scientist:
      Not long ago, it was difficult to produce photographs of tiny creatures with every part in focus. That’s because the lenses that are excellent at magnifying tiny subjects produce a narrow depth of field. A photo processing technique called focus stacking has changed that.
  2. Of little extent; very limited; circumscribed.
    • 1675, John Wilkins, Of the Principles and Duties of Natural Religion:
      The Jews were but a small nation, and confined to a narrow compass in the world.
  3. (figuratively) Restrictive; without flexibility or latitude.
    a narrow interpretation
  4. Contracted; of limited scope; bigoted
    a narrow mind
    narrow views
  5. Having a small margin or degree.
    a narrow escape
    The Republicans won by a narrow majority.
    • 2011 September 18, Ben Dirs, “Rugby World Cup 2011: England 41-10 Georgia”, in BBC Sport[1]:
      As in their narrow defeat of Argentina last week, England were indisciplined at the breakdown, and if Georgian fly-half Merab Kvirikashvili had remembered his kicking boots, Johnson's side might have been behind at half-time.
  6. (dated) Limited as to means; straitened
    narrow circumstances
  7. Parsimonious; niggardly; covetous; selfish.
    • a. 1719, George Smalridge, The Hopes of a Recompense from Men must not be our chief Aim in doing Good:
      a very narrow [] and stinted charity
  8. Scrutinizing in detail; close; accurate; exact.
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book IX”, in Paradise Lost. [], London: [] [Samuel Simmons], and are to be sold by Peter Parker []; [a]nd by Robert Boulter []; [a]nd Matthias Walker, [], →OCLC:
      But first with narrow search I must walk round / This garden, and no corner leave unspied.
  9. (phonetics) 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.
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Noun edit

narrow (plural narrows)

  1. (chiefly in the plural) A narrow passage, especially a contracted part of a stream, lake, or sea; a strait connecting two bodies of water.
    the narrows of New York harbor
    • 1858, William Gladstone, Studies on Homer and the Homeric Age:
      Near the island lay on one side the jaws of a dangerous narrow.

Etymology 2 edit

From Middle English narwen (to narrow); see there for more details, but ultimately derived from the noun.

Verb edit

narrow (third-person singular simple present narrows, present participle narrowing, simple past and past participle narrowed)

  1. (transitive) To reduce in width or extent; to contract.
    We need to narrow the search.
  2. (intransitive) To get narrower.
    The road narrows.
  3. (of a person or eyes) To partially lower one's eyelids in a way usually taken to suggest a defensive, aggressive or penetrating look.
    He stepped in front of me, narrowing his eyes to slits.
    She wagged her finger in his face, and her eyes narrowed.
  4. (knitting) To contract the size of, as a stocking, by taking two stitches into one.
  5. (transitive, programming) To convert to a data type that cannot hold as many distinct values.
    Antonym: widen
    to narrow an int variable to a short variable
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