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 needling (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

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Other Words from needle


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


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

Synonyms for needle

Synonyms: Noun

hype [slang], hypodermic, hypodermic needle, hypodermic syringe, syringe

Synonyms: Verb

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

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Examples of needle in a Sentence


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.


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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Winn-Dixie officials are investigating after reports of a needle found in an ice cream freezer at a Jacksonville store emerged this week, according to a report by WJAX, a CBS news affiliated station serving Jacksonville. Joe Mario Pedersen,, "Hypodermic needle found next to Blue Bell Ice Cream at a Florida Winn-Dixie," 6 Sep. 2019 According to the expert, Barlos said, about 10,000 strands of DNA could fit onto the tip of a needle. Nate Gartrell, The Mercury News, "Nursing assistant at East Bay hospital acquitted of sexual assault, burglary," 5 Sep. 2019 Once again, De Bruyne pulled the strings in midfield, suffocating Eddie Howe's side of the ball with his immense ability to retain possession and pick a pass through the eye of a needle., "Kevin De Bruyne: How Man City's Returning Hero Is an Invaluable Asset to an Already Outstanding Team," 25 Aug. 2019 Big studios have no patience for niche projects, only guaranteed smash hits that can move a stock needle. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Why Viacom and CBS Had to Merge to Survive," 19 Aug. 2019 Most people who’ve been jabbed by a needle know the drill: First the pierce, then the sharp, searing pain and an urge to pull away, or at least wince. National Geographic, "Newly discovered organ may be lurking under your skin," 15 Aug. 2019 The first is a minimally invasive procedure where the nerves that carry pain information away from the knee are ablated, or destroyed, with the use of a special needle. Markus Bendel,, "Although uncommon, some people have pain even after knee replacement surgery," 14 Aug. 2019 Without the benefit of retroviral vectors or CRISPR, the task required sticking a little needle into a T cell and micro injecting the new TCR genes one cell at a time. Charles Graeber, WIRED, "How Scientists Built a ‘Living Drug’ to Beat Cancer," 25 July 2019 The needle exchange services will not be handled directly by the county. Lauren Caruba,, "At long last, needle exchange program gets underway in San Antonio," 11 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

This brave electronic leap has led the 49-year-old with countless golfing mountains scaled to go topless, tell hilarious stories (trust us) about public defecation, creatively needle Tiger Woods, offer random dating advice and so much more. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: ‘Fun Phil’ Mickelson dives into social media while helping San Diego kids," 30 Aug. 2019 Her every move seems calculated to needle her way onto the Roy throne—or at least, cast the deciding ballot. Julie Kosin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Who Won the Succession Game of Thrones This Week?," 12 Aug. 2019 Down for the day from Boston, Ms. Wasserman wasn’t there to needle Goldman on climate change or diversity. Liz Hoffman, WSJ, "Want David Solomon’s Take on Something? Buy a Goldman Share and Show Up," 6 May 2019 The organization is offering a $10 gift card to needle-exchange clients who get tested for HIV, because people who inject drugs are at higher risk, said Cassidy Snyder, co-founder and director of the volunteer group. Stephanie Innes, azcentral, "Yavapai county investigating spike in new HIV cases," 30 Aug. 2019 Get those big decisions mostly right, diversify and forget needling in haystacks. Ken Fisher, USA TODAY, "10 bits of investment wisdom that can help your 401(k) flourish," 11 Aug. 2019 EBay made a more pointed reference to Amazon in its announcement, needling the company for its periodic website outages last year on Prime Day. Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN, "How Amazon Prime Day became the shopping Super Bowl," 13 July 2019 There are thousands of cold cases in New York City, needling reminders of unfinished business. Michael Wilson, New York Times, "48 Years Later, a Cold Case Mystery: Who Killed Officer Bolden?," 28 Aug. 2019 Online auctioneer eBay promoted its sale with a commercial released last week that needled Amazon. Benjamin Romano,, "Amazon critics, rivals pouncing on Prime Day spotlight," 15 July 2019

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.

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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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Statistics for needle

Last Updated

12 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for needle

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

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More Definitions for needle



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



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

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


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

Medical Definition of needle (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on needle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with needle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for needle

Spanish Central: Translation of needle

Nglish: Translation of needle for Spanish Speakers

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

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).


ancient or antiquated

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