needle

1 of 2

noun

nee·​dle ˈnē-dᵊl How to pronounce needle (audio)
1
a
: 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)
2
a
: 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
3
a
: a slender pointed object resembling a needle: such as
(1)
: a pointed crystal
(2)
: a sharp rock
(3)
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
needlelike adjective

Illustration of needle

Illustration of needle
  • 1 suture
  • 2 sewing
  • 3 knitting

needle

2 of 2

verb

needled; needling
ˈnēd-liŋ,
ˈnē-dᵊl-iŋ How to pronounce needle (audio)

transitive verb

1
: to sew or pierce with or as if with a needle
2
a
b
: to incite to action by repeated gibes
needled the boy into a fight
needler
ˈnēd-lər
ˈnē-dᵊl-ər How to pronounce needle (audio)
noun

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
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Oh, the delicate needle to be threaded between climate-conscious consumerism and not consuming so damn much. Sammy Roth, Los Angeles Times, 27 Feb. 2024 Such an experience is not limited to tennis rackets but includes every tool humans create and master: brooms, rakes, spoons, fishing rods, needles, saws, pencils, paintbrushes, saxophones, computer mice, prosthetics, wheelchairs and far more. Chip Colwell, Smithsonian Magazine, 26 Feb. 2024 But the end result of the lack of armor is very stupid, with a fellow Spartan being killed when a single Needler needle is poked into his chest and explodes. Paul Tassi, Forbes, 23 Feb. 2024 But what’s at stake in the date, which turns the movie into a period piece, is more than fashion and needle drops; the story, which is one of pursuit on the open road, would be rendered utterly implausible by today’s technology. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 23 Feb. 2024 But Messi moves the needle — every needle — that much. Tim Reynolds, USA TODAY, 22 Feb. 2024 Finding the perfect pair of jeans can often feel like searching for a needle in a proverbial denim haystack. Jamie Allison Sanders, Peoplemag, 18 Feb. 2024 The Idaho Harm Reduction Project offers a variety of services, including a syringe exchange program, which allows drug users to obtain clean needles, according to their website. Alex Brizee, Idaho Statesman, 15 Feb. 2024 Warrior-poets, artisans who make the eye of a needle look as wide and gaping as the entrance to the Eisenhower Tunnel. Sean Keeler, The Denver Post, 14 Feb. 2024
Verb
Whether deployed by politicians or entertainers, comedy’s power is to needle deep into the subconscious, forming an emotional bond that transcends reason. Seth Simons, Los Angeles Times, 22 Feb. 2024 As with Isong, Iris’ politely needling interrogation of Wonju yields poignant memories of family and childhood, though Iris returns these with her own melancholic reflections on mortality. Guy Lodge, Variety, 19 Feb. 2024 Putin prefers to needle, to provoke, and test his opponents’ redlines or readiness. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, 12 Feb. 2024 In her lyrics, Ice Spice haunts her romantic admirers and needles her anonymous enemies without leaving any of her feelings open to interpretation. Chris Richards, Washington Post, 2 Feb. 2024 And Tehran is content with needling its main adversaries, fixing its internal woes, and avoiding broader conflict. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, 2 Feb. 2024 Stewart has been a strong critic of Trump and will undoubtedly use the platform to needle the former president. Cnn.com Wire Service, The Mercury News, 24 Jan. 2024 Famously intense, the Wells Fargo & Co. researcher isn’t just a spectacle on conference calls, where he’s known to needle banking bosses. Bre Badham, Fortune, 9 Jan. 2024 Pomeranz would needle his partner by carrying idle, off-camera chitchat right up to the last possible second before going live. Bryce Miller, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'needle.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

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

First Known Use

Noun

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

Verb

circa 1715, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near needle

Cite this Entry

“Needle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/needle. Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

needle

1 of 2 noun
nee·​dle ˈnēd-ᵊl How to pronounce needle (audio)
1
a
: a small slender usually steel instrument that has an eye for thread or surgical sutures at one end and is used for sewing
b
: any of various devices for carrying thread and making stitches (as in crocheting or knitting)
c
: a slender hollow usually stainless steel instrument by which material is put into or taken from the body through the skin
d
: an extremely thin solid usually stainless steel instrument used in acupuncture and inserted through the skin
2
a
: a slender bar of magnetized steel that is free to turn (as in a compass) to show the direction of a magnetic field
b
: a slender pointer on a dial
3
a
: a slender pointed object (as a pointed crystal or an obelisk)
b
: a leaf (as of a pine) shaped like a needle
4
: a slender piece of jewel or steel with a rounded tip used in a phonograph to transmit vibrations from the record
needlelike adjective

needle

2 of 2 verb
needled; needling ˈnēd-liŋ How to pronounce needle (audio)
-ᵊl-iŋ
1
2
: to cause to take action by repeated stinging remarks
needler
ˈnēd-lər How to pronounce needle (audio)
-ᵊl-ər
noun

Medical Definition

needle

1 of 2 noun
nee·​dle ˈnēd-ᵊl How to pronounce needle (audio)
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

needle

2 of 2 transitive verb
needled; needling ˈnēd-liŋ, -ᵊl-iŋ How to pronounce needle (audio)
: to puncture, operate on, or inject with a needle
needling a cataract

More from Merriam-Webster on needle

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