On the straight and narrow

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On the straight and narrow is an idiom that has been in use for hundreds of years. We will examine the meaning of the idiom on the straight and narrow, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

On the straight and narrow means doing what is morally right, behaving in an honest and upright manner. The expression alludes to walking a straight, honest path rather than a tricky, twisty path. The idiom on the straight and narrow is derived from a passage in the Bible, Matthew 7:13-14: “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” On the straight and narrow is often used to describe people who have reformed themselves from a previous, immoral or criminal life.


“I didn’t walk my entire life on the straight and narrow to be in a jumpsuit like that for nothing.” (The Buffalo News)

Of course, we veer off course now and then, but He will not let us get too far before He pulls us back on the straight and narrow. (The Coastland Times)

“I see all sorts of young people coming through the courthouse. … I see too many young black males getting into trouble, and it’s simply because they don’t have structure in their lives, they don’t have male role models to keep them on the straight and narrow,” Stigler said. (Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier)