Meaning of NARROW in English

I. nar ‧ row 1 S3 W2 /ˈnærəʊ $ -roʊ/ BrE AmE adjective

[ Language: Old English ; Origin: nearu ]

1 . NOT WIDE measuring only a small distance from one side to the other, especially in relation to the length OPP wide ⇨ broad

narrow street/road/path etc

a long narrow road

the narrow passage between the cottage and the house

his narrow bed

The stairs were very narrow.

a long, narrow band of cloud

2 . narrow escape a situation in which you only just avoid danger, difficulties, or trouble:

A woman had a narrow escape yesterday when her car left the road.

He was shaken by his narrow escape from death.

3 . narrow victory/defeat/majority/margin etc a win etc that is only just achieved or happens by only a small amount ⇨ slim :

The president won a narrow victory in the election.

He persuaded a narrow majority of the party to support the government.

Scotland eventually won the match by the narrow margin of 5–4.


The expression a narrow victory/defeat is used mostly in writing. In everyday British English, people often say that someone only just won/lost or, in everyday American English, barely won/lost .

4 . IDEAS/ATTITUDES a narrow attitude or way of looking at a situation is too limited and does not consider enough possibilities OPP broad :

You’ve got a very narrow view of life.

Some teachers have a narrow vision of what art is.

⇨ ↑ narrow-minded

5 . narrow sense/definition a meaning of a word that is exact or limited OPP broad :

I use the word ‘neighbour’ in its more precise or narrower sense.

6 . LIMITED limited in range or number of things OPP broad :

The company offered only a narrow range of financial services.

—narrowness noun [uncountable]

⇨ ↑ narrowly , ↑ narrows , ⇨ the straight and narrow at ↑ straight 3 (2)

II. narrow 2 BrE AmE verb [intransitive and transitive]

1 . to make something narrower, or to become narrower OPP widen :

He narrowed his eyes and gazed at the horizon.

The track divided into two and narrowed.

2 . if a range, difference etc narrows, or if something narrows it, it becomes less OPP widen :

The choice of goods available is narrowing.

The economic gap between the two halves of the country was beginning to narrow.

narrow something ↔ down phrasal verb

to reduce the number of things included in a range:

The police have narrowed down their list of suspects.

narrow something ↔ down to

I’ve narrowed it down to one of two people.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.