move the needle

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From the indicator needle of a measuring instrument such as the speedometer.


  • (file)
  • IPA(key): /muːv ðə niː.dəl/


move the needle (third-person singular simple present moves the needle, present participle moving the needle, simple past and past participle moved the needle)

  1. (idiomatic) To change a situation to a noticeable degree.
    Synonym: budge the needle
    • 2002 July 28, Janice M. Horowitz, “Hot Stuff”, in Time[1]:
      Think Red Hots are a taste challenge? Or the Atomic Fireball is the ultimate tongue torture? They barely move the needle for confectionery connoisseurs.
    • 2012 August 9, Eric Lowitt, “To solve climate change, let's move beyond climate change”, in The Guardian[2]:
      How does a participant in a sector, or an entire sector for that matter, move the needle on climate change?
    • 2016 May 19, James B. Stewart, quoting Bill Smead, “Warren Buffett Stake Suggests Apple Is All Grown Up”, in The New York Times[3], →ISSN:
      “[G]iven Apple’s huge success and its sheer magnitude, it needs a monstrous new product or enhancement of an existing product to move the needle on growth.”
    • 2020, Anuj Adhiya, Growth Hacking For Dummies[4], John Wiley & Sons, →ISBN:
      A North Star Metric (NSM) allows everyone, irrespective of team status, to ask, “How is what I'm doing today helping move the needle on our NSM?”