verb (used with object), nee·dled, nee·dling.

verb (used without object), nee·dled, nee·dling.

to form needles in crystallization.
to work with a needle.


    on the needle, Slang. taking drugs by injection, especially habitually.
    the needle, Informal. irritating abuse; teasing; heckling (used especially in the phrases give someone the needle and get the needle).

Origin of needle

before 900; 1880–85 for def 16; Middle English nedle, Old English nǣdl, cognate with German Nadel; akin to Latin nēre to spin
Related formsnee·dle·like, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for needle

Contemporary Examples of needle

Historical Examples of needle

  • How many hours in the twenty-four do you devote to your needle?

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • "I'll use my scissors and needle on them to-night," she said, ruthlessly.


    W. A. Fraser

  • Wherever I glance my eyes, they meet something that pricks them like a needle.

    Old News

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • Who that has poached a pile does not gravitate there, as the needle to the pole?

  • The only thing in which she showed ability, if so it might be called, was in the use of the needle.

    Night and Morning, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

British Dictionary definitions for needle



a pointed slender piece of metal, usually steel, with a hole or eye in it through which thread is passed for sewing
a somewhat larger rod with a point at one or each end, used in knitting
a similar instrument with a hook at one end for crocheting
  1. another name for stylus (def. 3)
  2. a small thin pointed device, esp one made of stainless steel, used to transmit the vibrations from a gramophone record to the pick-up
  1. the long hollow pointed part of a hypodermic syringe, which is inserted into the body
  2. an informal name for hypodermic syringe
surgery a pointed steel instrument, often curved, for suturing, puncturing, or ligating
a long narrow stiff leaf, esp of a conifer, in which water loss is greatly reducedpine needles
any slender sharp spine, such as the spine of a sea urchin
any slender pointer for indicating the reading on the scale of a measuring instrument
short for magnetic needle
a crystal resembling a needle in shape
a sharp pointed metal instrument used in engraving and etching
anything long and pointed, such as an obeliska needle of light
a short horizontal beam passed through a wall and supported on vertical posts to take the load of the upper part of the wall
  1. anger or intense rivalry, esp in a sporting encounter
  2. (as modifier)a needle match
get the needle or have the needle British informal to feel dislike, distaste, nervousness, or annoyance (for)she got the needle after he had refused her invitation


(tr) informal to goad or provoke, as by constant criticism
(tr) to sew, embroider, or prick (fabric) with a needle
(tr) US to increase the alcoholic strength of (beer or other beverages)
(intr) (of a substance) to form needle-shaped crystals

Word Origin for needle

Old English nǣdl; related to Gothic nēthla, German Nadel
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for needle

Old English nædl, from Proto-Germanic *næthlo (cf. Old Saxon nathla, Old Norse nal, Old Frisian nedle, Old High German nadala, German Nadel, Gothic neþla "needle"), literally "a tool for sewing," from PIE *net-la-, from root *(s)ne- "to sew, to spin" (cf. Sanskrit snayati "wraps up," Greek nein "to spin," Latin nere "to spin," German nähen "to sew," Old Church Slavonic niti "thread," Old Irish snathat "needle," Welsh nyddu "to sew," nodwydd "needle") + instrumental suffix *-tla.

To seke out one lyne in all hys bookes wer to go looke a nedle in a meadow. [Thomas More, c.1530]

Meaning "piece of magnetized steel in a compass" is from late 14c. (on a dial or indicator from 1928); the surgical instrument so called from 1727; phonographic sense from 1902; sense of "leaf of a fir or pine tree" first attested 1797. Needledom "the world of sewing" is from 1847. Needle's eye, figurative of a minute opening, often is a reference to Matt. xix:24.


1715, "to sew or pierce with a needle," from needle (n.). Meaning "goad, provoke" (1881) probably is from earlier meaning "haggle in making a bargain" (1812). Related: Needled; needling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

needle in Medicine




A slender, usually sharp-pointed instrument used for puncturing tissues, suturing, or passing a ligature around an artery.
A hollow, slender, sharp-pointed instrument used for injection or aspiration.


To separate tissues by means of one or two needles in the dissection of small parts.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

needle in Science



A narrow, stiff leaf, as of firs, pines, and other conifers. The reduced surface area of needles minimizes water loss and allows needle-bearing plants to live in dry climates. See more at leaf.
See hypodermic needle.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with needle


In addition to the idiom beginning with needle

  • needle in a haystack
  • needless to say

also see:

  • on pins and needles
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.