narrow » arrow

Chiefly in:   the straight and arrow

Classification: English

Spotted in the wild:

  • She who seeks to coexist with her avatar must follow the straight and arrow. (link)
  • Left with nothing, and realizing what he has lost, he quickly goes on the straight and arrow. (link)
  • The media serve as a watchdog to keep political leaders on the straight and arrow. (US Senator Chuck Grassley, Iowa)
  • “If I’m keeping the straight and arrow and I’m not doing anything wrong there should be no reason why they can’t go through and read my instant messages,” says his daughter, Jamie. (CBS News)

Analyzed or reported by:

The preceding _and_ is required. In casual speech, _and arrow_ and _and narrow_ are homophonous for many speakers.

Possible influence via the idioms _a straight arrow_ and _straight as an arrow_.

See also _straight as a narrow_.

| link | entered by Chris Waigl, 2005/07/13 |


  1. 1

    Commentary by Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov , 2005/07/13 at 5:32 pm

    Was not the original “strait and narrow,” from Matt. 7:14? Which may seem redundant, but compare “null and void,” “bits and pieces,” and so on.

  2. 2

    Commentary by Ann , 2006/03/22 at 8:07 pm

    Yes, the original should be “strait and narrow,” but it is much more common to read “straight and narrow.” Similarly, the term “strait-laced” (meaning tightly laced, as with a corset) is frequently changed to “straight-laced,” which means nothing.

  3. 3

    Commentary by Ralph Hile , 2006/08/07 at 3:23 am

    I’ve never witnessed “straight and arrow,” but have often seen “straight and narrow,” even used by professional writers. This construction would seem to be nearly as egg-corny as the first and, clearly, far more common.

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