constrict vs narrow what difference

what is difference between constrict and narrow



Borrowed from Latin cōnstrictus (compressed, contracted), past participle of cōnstringō (to draw or bind together; to compress). Doublet of constrain.


  • IPA(key): /kənˈstɹɪkt/
  • Rhymes: -ɪkt


constrict (third-person singular simple present constricts, present participle constricting, simple past and past participle constricted)

  1. (transitive, intransitive) To narrow, especially by application of pressure.
  2. (of a snake) To coil around (prey) in order to asphyxiate it.
  3. (figuratively) To limit or restrict.
    Synonym: inhibit

Related terms



  • “constrict”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–present.
  • “constrict”, in Merriam–Webster Online Dictionary.


Alternative forms

  • narrowe (obsolete)


  • (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈnæɹəʊ/
  • (General American) IPA(key): /ˈnæɹoʊ/, /ˈnɛɹoʊ/
  • (Marymarrymerry distinction)
  • (Marymarrymerry merger)
  • Rhymes: -ærəʊ

Etymology 1

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 Narbe (scar), Norwegian norve (a clip, staple), Icelandic njörva- (narrow-, in compounds).


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.
  2. Of little extent; very limited; circumscribed.
  3. (figuratively) Restrictive; without flexibility or latitude.
  4. Contracted; of limited scope; bigoted
  5. Having a small margin or degree.
  6. (dated) Limited as to means; straitened
  7. Parsimonious; niggardly; covetous; selfish.
  8. Scrutinizing in detail; close; accurate; exact.
  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.
  • wide
  • broad
Related terms
  • narrowly
  • narrowness
Derived terms


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.
    • 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

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


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.
  2. (intransitive) To get narrower.
  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.
  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
  • taper
Derived terms
  • narrowable
  • narrow down
  • renarrow

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