needle

noun
nee·dle | \ ˈnē-dᵊl \

Definition of needle 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a small slender usually steel instrument that has an eye for thread or surgical sutures at one end and that is used for sewing

b : any of various devices for carrying thread and making stitches (as in crocheting or knitting)

c(1) : a slender hollow instrument for introducing material into or removing material from the body (as by insertion under the skin)

(2) : an extremely thin solid usually stainless steel instrument used in acupuncture and inserted through the skin

d : any of various slender hollow devices used to introduce matter (such as air) into or remove it from an object (such as a ball)

2a : a slender bar of magnetized steel that when allowed to turn freely (as in a compass) indicates the direction of a magnetic field (as of the earth)

b : a slender usually sharp-pointed indicator on a dial

3a : a slender pointed object resembling a needle: such as

(1) : a pointed crystal

(2) : a sharp rock

(3) : obelisk

b : a needle-shaped leaf (as of a conifer)

c : a slender rod (as of jewel or steel) with a rounded tip used in a phonograph to transmit vibrations from a record : stylus

d : a slender pointed rod controlling a fine inlet or outlet (as in a valve)

4 : a teasing or gibing remark

needle

verb
needled; needling\ˈnēd-liŋ, ˈnē-dᵊl-iŋ \

Definition of needle (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to sew or pierce with or as if with a needle

2a : tease, torment

b : to incite to action by repeated gibes needled the boy into a fight

Illustration of needle

Illustration of needle

Noun

needle 1: 1 suture, 2 sewing, 3 knitting

In the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Other words from needle

Noun

needlelike \ˈnē-dᵊl-ˌ(l)īk \ adjective

Verb

needler \ˈnēd-lər, ˈnē-dᵊl-ər \ noun

Synonyms for needle

Synonyms: Noun

hand, index, indicator, pointer

Synonyms: Verb

bait, hassle, haze, heckle, ride, taunt, tease

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of needle in a Sentence

Noun

I need a needle and thread to sew the button on your shirt. The needle on the scale points to 9 grams. The compass needle points north.

Verb

His classmates needled him about his new haircut. we needled him mercilessly for thinking that he had any chance of being the prom date for the school's most popular girl
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Place the wire directly over the needle and then connect it to the battery. Rhett Allain, WIRED, "Can Your Electronic Gadgets Interfere With Your Compass?," 10 July 2018 Even smaller, territory-specific playlists like Sommerhits 2018, which has fewer than 700,000 followers as of press time, are often just as effective as mint at moving the needle for an artist, these sources say. Cherie Hu, Billboard, "Millions of Followers? Yes, But Some Top Spotify Playlists Fall Short on Engagement," 3 July 2018 The Enquirer/Carrie Cochran Drug users soon will be able to trade used needles for clean injection equipment weekly in two Northern Kentucky river cities in an effort to stop the spread of infectious diseases. Terry Demio, Cincinnati.com, "Needle exchanges to roll into Newport, Covington, offering drug users sterile equipment," 27 June 2018 And patients who have totally moved the needle for their disease. Beth Kassab, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Facing a medical crisis: To Google or not to Google?," 21 June 2018 Wildwood’s botanical mix also includes Seville oranges, cardamom, orris root, Douglas fir needles and Braeburn apples — the latter two harvested from Liedholm’s backyard. Providence Cicero, The Seattle Times, "Backed by his boss, John Howie, sommelier/master distiller Erik Liedholm pours his heart and talent into award-winning liquors," 20 June 2018 Plastic bags, which can gum up sorting equipment; propane tanks; batteries (which can be taken to drop-off locations); electric cords; twine and rope; needles and medical waste; and diapers. Lee Bergquist, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "China's ban on U.S. scrap is raising the issue of 'dirty' recyclables in Wisconsin," 8 June 2018 Finishing strong could mean losing by a smaller margin than the candidates of recent years, moving the needle for the party and paving the way for a future run. Peggy Fikac, San Antonio Express-News, "Beto O’Rourke puts all his chips on 2018," 10 May 2018 And the celebrities that move the needle for UpscaleHype are perfect fits for a fashion moment when streetwear is king. Cam Wolf, GQ, "How UpscaleHype Became Menswear’s Most Important Instagram Account," 26 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Ronaldo has scored a tournament-leading four goals — all of Portugal's goals so far — while silently needling Messi. Ben Nuckols, chicagotribune.com, "Messi, Argentina under pressure to win against Croatia," 20 June 2018 The facial includes a cleanse, followed by an intensive TCA peel, micro-needling machine and en electrifying mask to calm the skin, followed by my 'secret box' of EGF (Epidermal Growth Factor) serum. Ingrid Schmidt, The Hollywood Reporter, "The Story Behind The Cate Blanchett ‘Penis Facial’ Controversy," 16 Mar. 2018 Burnham was less Maleficent cursing Sleeping Beauty’s christening than a court jester mildly needling the royals. Michael Schulman, The New Yorker, "Bo Burnham’s Age of Anxiety," 8 Dec. 2014 On a recent Monday evening, as the chorus practiced for its Pride weekend season finale, members joked and needled one another in whispers. Ryan Kost, San Francisco Chronicle, "The S.F. Gay Men’s Chorus, part of history itself, sings it out in ‘Unbreakable’," 14 June 2018 Such was the dynamic throughout much of Constand’s second day on the witness stand as Mesereau harangued, challenged, quizzed, and needled the former Temple University basketball manager for another two hours in a pivotal cross-examination. Jeremy Roebuck, Philly.com, "Constand denies defense claim she plotted to extort Cosby," 16 Apr. 2018 But now more and more pet owners are turning to needle power to help cure their cats and dogs. Houston Chronicle, "Pet Talk: Could your pet benefit from acupuncture treatment?," 6 July 2018 Your needling her to tell you what’s wrong is only going to require more energy from her, not less. Sophia Benoit, GQ, "Why Women Say Nothing Is Wrong When Something Is Clearly Wrong," 20 June 2018 In the Rose Garden event, Mr. Trump needled Mr. Azar, formerly president of a Eli Lilly & Co. affiliate. Joseph Walker, WSJ, "Trump’s Plan to Cut Drug Prices Leaves Industry Relieved," 11 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'needle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of needle

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

circa 1715, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for needle

Noun

Middle English nedle, from Old English nǣdl; akin to Old High German nādala needle, nājan to sew, Latin nēre to spin, Greek nēn

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about needle

Phrases Related to needle

a needle in a haystack

knitting needle

Statistics for needle

Last Updated

14 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for needle

The first known use of needle was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for needle

needle

noun

English Language Learners Definition of needle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a small, very thin object that is used in sewing and that has a sharp point at one end and a hole for thread

: one of the two long, thin sticks that are used in knitting and that are pointed at one end

: a very thin, pointed steel tube that is pushed through the skin so that something (such as a drug) can be put into your body or so that blood or other fluids can be taken from it

needle

verb

English Language Learners Definition of needle (Entry 2 of 2)

: to criticize and laugh at (someone) in either a friendly or an unkind way

needle

noun
nee·dle | \ ˈnē-dᵊl \

Kids Definition of needle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a small slender pointed usually steel tool used for sewing

2 : a slender pointed piece of metal or plastic (used for knitting)

3 : a leaf (as of a pine) shaped like a needle

4 : a pointer on a dial The needle on her gas gauge read “empty.”

5 : a slender hollow instrument that has a sharp point and by which material is put into or taken from the body through the skin

Other words from needle

needlelike \ˈnē-dᵊl-ˌlīk \ adjective

needle

verb
needled; needling

Kids Definition of needle (Entry 2 of 2)

needle

noun
nee·dle | \ ˈnēd-ᵊl \

Medical Definition of needle 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a small slender usually steel instrument designed to carry sutures when sewing tissues in surgery

2 : a slender hollow instrument for introducing material into or removing material from the body parenterally

needled; needling\ˈnēd-liŋ, -ᵊl-iŋ \

Medical Definition of needle (Entry 2 of 2)

: to puncture, operate on, or inject with a needle needling a cataract

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on needle

What made you want to look up needle? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to deposit or conceal in a hiding place

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!