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 , ˈnē-​dᵊl-​iŋ How to pronounce needle (audio) \

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 , ˈnē-​dᵊl-​ər How to pronounce needle (audio) \ 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 Finding small creatures in the Morrison Formation is a challenging task, akin to finding a needle in a haystack that extends from Montana to Oklahoma. Riley Black, Smithsonian Magazine, 15 Sep. 2022 Using a tapestry needle and embroidery thread, sew the shoes to the socks, stitching along the entire edge of the shoe. Sarah Martens, Better Homes & Gardens, 13 Sep. 2022 The test uses a needle to extract cerebrospinal fluid — a clear fluid that flows around the brain and spinal cord — then analyzes it using a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machine, the same technology used to identify COVID-19. Caroline Catherman, Orlando Sentinel, 1 Sep. 2022 On the turnover, Jones froze the defense momentarily with a nice play-action fake, rolled right, and tried to threat a needle to Kendrick Bourne. Jim Mcbride,, 26 Aug. 2022 Using a single needle will achieve the finest, and faintest, line possible. Megan Decker,, 24 Aug. 2022 The first time Kaillie Humphries plunged a needle filled with fertility hormones into her abdomen, the Olympic gold medalist knew exactly the path that had led to this moment. Lindsay Schnell, USA TODAY, 19 Aug. 2022 Once the lips are numb, the actual injecting, which consists of the provider using a small, thin needle to inject the filler into various parts of the lips, usually lasts about 5-10 minutes. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, 17 Aug. 2022 Some options include massages; dry needling, which involves injecting a thin needle into the trigger point to attempt to break up some of the tissue and increase blood flow to the area; and even electrical stimulation. Zachary Gillen, CNN, 16 Aug. 2022 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

24 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Needle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Oct. 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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