What is Middle English spelling of "narrow"?

Studylight says "narwy", but in my opinion the forth letter is "r".

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Wycliffe's Bible (page 19)



"...hou streit is the yate, and narwy the weye, that ledith to lijf, and ther ben fewe that..."

King James Bible:

"Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that..."

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    There is no single Middle English spelling of narrow. OED gives narouȝ, narwe, narroy, narrowe, and around 30 others. It looks to me like your manuscript spells it narwy, as Studylight says. Commented Jul 8, 2019 at 16:10

1 Answer 1


The spelling in the manuscript is narwʒ. The shape of the [w] between narwʒ and wei is consistent, as is the [r] between it and streit and the [a] between it and ʒat. The yogh [ʒ] is consistent between it and ʒat as well; it appears Studylight represents the yogh as a [y].

Middle English has no single consistent spelling. Especially for this word, according to the Middle English Dictionary ("narw and narwe") we have:

narw(e adj. Also nareu(e, narewe, narow(e, nareuʒe, narouʒ(e, narouʒh, narough, nareuh, naru(e, narru, narʒ, nargh, narwʒ, narwh, nare & nerue & (early) nearw(e, near(u(we, nerw, nærewe, nærewne, (early SEM) nerewe, (early SWM) nearewe, nearow(e, neruwe, neruh.

While the absence of a vowel between [r], [w], and [ʒ] may send shivers down the spine of a first year Middle English student, we also see this in Middle English with words like borwʒ (modern burrow) and merwʒ (modern marrow).

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