Middle English narwe, from Old English nearu "of little width, not wide or broad; constricted, limited; petty; causing difficulty, oppressive; strict, severe," from West Germanic *narwaz "narrowness" (source also of Frisian nar, Old Saxon naru, Middle Dutch nare, Dutch naar) which is not found in other Germanic languages and is of unknown origin.
In reference to railroads, narrow-gauge (also narrow-gage) is by 1841, originally of those less than the standard of 4 feet 8 1/2 inches. The narrow seas (mid-15c.) were the waters between Great Britain and the continent and Ireland, but specifically the Strait of Dover.
The Germanic word was borrowed into Medieval Latin as spannus, hence Italian spanna, Old French espan "hand's width, span as a unit of measure," French empan. As a measure of volume (early 14c.), "what can be held in two cupped hands." Meaning "length of time" first attested 1590s; that of "space between abutments of an arch, etc." is from 1725. Meaning "maximum lateral dimension of an aircraft" is first recorded 1909.
c. 1200, renge, "row or line of persons" (especially hunters or soldiers), from Old French reng, renge "a row, line, rank," from Frankish *hring or some other Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *hringaz "circle, ring, something curved" (from nasalized form of PIE root *sker- (2) "to turn, bend"). In some cases the Middle English word is from Old French range "range, rank," a variant of reng.
The general sense of "line, row" is attested from early 14c.; the meaning "row of mountains" is by 1705. The meaning "scope, extent" is by late 15c.; that of "area over which animals seek food" is from 1620s, from the verb. Specific U.S. sense of "series of townships six miles in width" is from 1785. Sense of "distance a gun can send a bullet" is recorded from 1590s; meaning "place used for shooting practice" is from 1862. The cooking appliance has been so called since mid-15c., for reasons unknown. Originally it was a stove built into a fireplace with openings on top for multiple operations. Range-finder "instrument for measuring the distance of an object" is attested from 1872.
late 14c., "breadth," from Old French latitude (13c.) and directly from Latin latitudo "breadth, width, extent, size," from lātus (adj.) "wide, broad, extensive" Old Latin stlatus, from PIE *stleto-, suffixed form of root *stele- "to spread, to extend" (source also of Old Church Slavonic steljo "to spread out," Armenian lain "broad").
Geographical and astronomical senses also are from late 14c., literally "breadth" of a map of the known world. Figurative sense of "allowable degree of variation, extent of deviation from a standard" is early 15c. Related: Latitudinal "pertaining to geographic latitude" (1777); latitudinous "having broadness of interpretation" (1829, American English).
The ancients supposed the torrid and the frigid zones to be uninhabitable and even impenetrable by man, but while the earth, as known to them, was bounded westwardly by the Atlantic Ocean, it extended indefinitely towards the east. The dimensions of the habitable world then (and ancient geography embraced only the home of man ....,) were much greater, measured from west to east, than from south to north. Accordingly, early geographers called the greater dimension, or the east and west line, the length, longitudo, of the earth, the shorter dimension, or the north and south line, they denominated its breadth, latitudo. These Latin terms are retained in the modern geography of most European nations, but with a modified meaning. [George P. Marsh, "Lectures on the English Language," 1882]