[ need-l ]
See synonyms for: needleneedledneedlesneedling on

  1. a small, slender, rodlike instrument, usually of polished steel, with a sharp point at one end and an eye or hole for thread at the other, for passing thread through cloth to make stitches in sewing.

  2. any of various similar, usually considerably larger, implements for making stitches, as one for use in knitting or one hooked at the end for use in crocheting.

  1. Medicine/Medical.

    • a slender, pointed, steel instrument used in sewing or piercing tissues, as in suturing.

  2. Informal. an injection of a drug or medicine; shot.

  3. any of various objects resembling or suggesting a needle.

  4. the tapered stylus at the end of a phonographic tonearm, used to transmit vibrations from a record groove to a transducer for conversion to audible signals.

  5. Electricity. magnetic needle.

  6. a pointed instrument, or stylus, used in engraving, etching, or the like.

  7. Botany. a needle-shaped leaf, as of a conifer: a pine needle.

  8. Zoology. a slender sharp spicule.

  9. Chemistry, Mineralogy. a needlelike crystal.

  10. a sharp-pointed mass or pinnacle of rock.

  11. an obelisk or a tapering, four-sided shaft of stone: Cleopatra's Needle.

  12. Also called needle beam .Building Trades. a short beam passed through a wall as a temporary support.

verb (used with object),nee·dled, nee·dling.
  1. to sew or pierce with or as if with a needle: to needle a patch on a sleeve.

  2. Informal.

    • to prod or goad (someone) to a specified action: We needled her into going with us.

    • to tease: We needled him about his big ears.

  1. Slang. to add alcohol or ether to (a beverage): to needle beer.

verb (used without object),nee·dled, nee·dling.
  1. to form needles in crystallization.

  2. to work with a needle.

Idioms about needle

  1. on the needle, Slang. taking drugs by injection, especially habitually.

  2. the needle, Informal. irritating abuse; teasing; heckling (used especially in the phrases give someone the needle and get the needle).

Origin of needle

First recorded before 900; 1880–85 for def. 16; Middle English nedle, Old English nǣdl, cognate with German Nadel; akin to Latin nēre to spin

Other words from needle

  • nee·dle·like, adjective

Words Nearby needle Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use needle in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for needle


/ (ˈniːdəl) /

  1. a pointed slender piece of metal, usually steel, with a hole or eye in it through which thread is passed for sewing

  2. a somewhat larger rod with a point at one or each end, used in knitting

  1. a similar instrument with a hook at one end for crocheting

    • another name for stylus (def. 3)

    • a small thin pointed device, esp one made of stainless steel, used to transmit the vibrations from a gramophone record to the pick-up

  2. med

    • the long hollow pointed part of a hypodermic syringe, which is inserted into the body

    • an informal name for hypodermic syringe

  3. surgery a pointed steel instrument, often curved, for suturing, puncturing, or ligating

  4. a long narrow stiff leaf, esp of a conifer, in which water loss is greatly reduced: pine needles

  5. any slender sharp spine, such as the spine of a sea urchin

  6. any slender pointer for indicating the reading on the scale of a measuring instrument

  7. short for magnetic needle

  8. a crystal resembling a needle in shape

  9. a sharp pointed metal instrument used in engraving and etching

  10. anything long and pointed, such as an obelisk: a needle of light

  11. a short horizontal beam passed through a wall and supported on vertical posts to take the load of the upper part of the wall

  12. informal

    • anger or intense rivalry, esp in a sporting encounter

    • (as modifier): a needle match

  13. 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

  1. (tr) informal to goad or provoke, as by constant criticism

  2. (tr) to sew, embroider, or prick (fabric) with a needle

  1. (tr) US to increase the alcoholic strength of (beer or other beverages)

  2. (intr) (of a substance) to form needle-shaped crystals

Origin of 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

Scientific definitions for needle


[ nēdl ]

  1. 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.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Other 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.