- 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.
- 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.
- a slender, pointed, steel instrument used in sewing or piercing tissues, as in suturing.
- hypodermic needle.
- Informal. an injection of a drug or medicine; shot.
- any of various objects resembling or suggesting a needle.
- 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.
- Electricity. magnetic needle.
- a pointed instrument, or stylus, used in engraving, etching, or the like.
- Botany. a needle-shaped leaf, as of a conifer: a pine needle.
- Zoology. a slender sharp spicule.
- Chemistry, Mineralogy. a needlelike crystal.
- a sharp-pointed mass or pinnacle of rock.
- an obelisk or a tapering, four-sided shaft of stone: Cleopatra's Needle.
- Also called needle beam. Building Trades. a short beam passed through a wall as a temporary support.
- to sew or pierce with or as if with a needle: to needle a patch on a sleeve.
- 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.
- Slang. to add alcohol or ether to (a beverage): to needle beer.
- 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
- 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
- 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
- the long hollow pointed part of a hypodermic syringe, which is inserted into the body
- 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
- anger or intense rivalry, esp in a sporting encounter
- (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 and History for on the 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.
- 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.
Idioms and Phrases with on the needle
In addition to the idiom beginning with needle
- needle in a haystack
- needless to say
- on pins and needles