nee·​dle | \ ˈnē-dᵊl How to pronounce needle (audio) \

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


needled; needling\ ˈnēd-​liŋ How to pronounce needle (audio) , 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


needle 1: 1 suture, 2 sewing, 3 knitting

In the meaning defined above

Other Words from needle


needlelike \ ˈnē-​dᵊl-​ˌ(l)īk How to pronounce needle (audio) \ adjective


needler \ ˈnēd-​lər How to pronounce needle (audio) , ˈnē-​dᵊl-​ər \ noun

Synonyms for needle

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

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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 Those 2,600 votes, even if ultimately bolstered by more Election Day participants, were unlikely to have moved the needle in an outcome in which Mastriano beat his closest rival by nearly 320,000., 31 May 2022 Whitmer had previously supported an effort from the state Legislature to repeal the statute, however that effort has not moved the needle. Alexandra Svokos, ABC News, 7 Apr. 2022 Biden may not have moved the needle on Democrats’ chances in the fall midterm elections, wrote Scott Jennings. Richard Galant, CNN, 6 Mar. 2022 But even the trendiest cricket dishes have not moved the needle in terms of making insect protein consumption mainstream. Michelle Cheng, Quartz, 23 Feb. 2022 The academy will, as with a broadcast show, also be checking with labels to see how the ceremony moved the needle for their participating acts. Melinda Newman, Billboard, 22 Feb. 2022 Releasing a report that will serve as a model for other governments, with information that chronicles how and where the equity work moved the needle so others can follow their lead. Darcel Rockett,, 25 Jan. 2022 Few of these programs have moved the needle on clinical quality. Robert Pearl, Forbes, 25 Jan. 2022 How has playing Mindy moved the needle in terms of representation? Ilana Kaplan, Vogue, 19 Dec. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb One of the most universal terms in comedy was created by Charlie Case, who pushed the Black entertainment needle away from racist minstrelsy and blackface during the vaudeville era by forging a new path of entertainment with storytelling. Elise Brisco, USA TODAY, 2 July 2022 Every interaction Pete has — especially with Harry, who seems determined to needle his new acquaintance for no discernible reason — could be read as merely awkward or as actively hostile. Noel Murray, Los Angeles Times, 10 Mar. 2022 The billionaire can’t believe what an oaf his captor is, finding any excuse to needle him. Kate Knibbs, Wired, 18 Mar. 2022 The foliage has varied textures and symmetrical or asymmetrical shaped leaves that are sharp and spiky, wide and flat, broad and fleshy or needle thin, usually with a central cup. Nicole Sours Larson, San Diego Union-Tribune, 28 Feb. 2022 In declaring victory Tuesday night, each woman seemed to needle the other, telegraphing what the next several weeks will bring., 15 Sep. 2021 O’Neill said Charlie is likely to keep charging into his 4-year-old season to needle his elite gate-mates for at least one more lap. San Diego Union-Tribune, 3 Nov. 2021 The previous tree, a Colorado blue spruce planted in October 2019, succumbed to needle cast disease, according to the National Park Service. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 1 Nov. 2021 Queenan, whose number one job actually seems to be to needle DiCaprio's rookie undercover cop. Derek Lawrence,, 6 Oct. 2021 See More

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.

First Known Use of needle


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


circa 1715, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for needle


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

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Time Traveler for needle

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near needle



needle and thread

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Statistics for needle

Last Updated

7 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Needle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for needle


nee·​dle | \ ˈnē-dᵊl How to pronounce needle (audio) \

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


needled; needling

Kids Definition of needle (Entry 2 of 2)


nee·​dle | \ ˈnēd-ᵊl How to pronounce needle (audio) \

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


transitive verb
needled; needling\ ˈnēd-​liŋ, -​ᵊl-​iŋ How to pronounce needle (audio) \

Medical Definition of needle (Entry 2 of 2)

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

More from Merriam-Webster on needle

Nglish: Translation of needle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of needle for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about needle


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