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See also: Needle


English Wikipedia has an article on:
An assortment of sewing needles
a hypodermic needle and syringe
needles (botany)


From Middle English nedle, from Old English nǣdl, from Proto-Germanic *nēþlō, from pre-Germanic *neh₁-tleh₂, from Proto-Indo-European *(s)neh₁- (to spin, twist). Cognate with Dutch naald (needle), German Nadel (needle, pin, crochet hook), Norwegian nål (needle). Further related with Welsh nyddu, Latin nēre, Sanskrit स्नायति (snāyati, wraps up, winds). Related to snood.


  • (UK, US) IPA(key): /ˈniː.dl/
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  • Rhymes: -iːdəl


needle (plural needles)

  1. A fine, sharp implement usually for piercing such as sewing, or knitting, acupuncture, tattooing, body piercing, medical injections, etc.
    The seamstress threaded the needle to sew on a button.
  2. Any slender, pointed object resembling a needle, such as a pointed crystal, a sharp pinnacle of rock, an obelisk, etc.
  3. A fine measurement indicator on a dial or graph, e.g. a compass needle.
    The needle on the fuel gauge pointed to empty.
  4. A sensor for playing phonograph records, a phonograph stylus.
    Ziggy bought some diamond needles for his hi-fi phonograph.
  5. A needle-like leaf found on some conifers.
    • 1994, Stephen Fry, The Hippopotamus, ch. 2:
      At the very moment he cried out, David realised that what he had run into was only the Christmas tree. Disgusted with himself at such cowardice, he spat a needle from his mouth.
  6. A strong beam resting on props, used as a temporary support during building repairs.
  7. (informal, usually preceded by the) The death penalty carried out by lethal injection.
  8. (programming, PHP) A text string that is searched for within another string.
    • 2010, Peter MacIntyre, PHP: The Good Parts (page 39)
      Both of these functions will look through the haystack for the specified needle and, if they find it, will return the portion of the string from the beginning of the needle to the end of the haystack.

Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

See also[edit]


needle (third-person singular simple present needles, present participle needling, simple past and past participle needled)

  1. To pierce with a needle, especially for sewing or acupuncture.
    • 1892, H. Lindo Ferguson, "Operation on Microphthamlmic Eyes", Ophthalmic Review, volume 11, page 48
      [] the eyes were once more beginning to show the old nystagmus; so I decided to needle the cataracts, and on Jan. 31 I needled the right eye.
    • 2000, Felix Mann, Reinventing Acupuncture, page 109
      Possibly the greatest effect is achieved in the hand by needling the thumb, the index finger and the region of the 1st and 2nd metacarpal.
  2. (transitive) To tease in order to provoke; to poke fun at.
    Billy needled his sister incessantly about her pimples.
    • 1984, Leopold Caligor, Philip M. Bromberg, & James D. Meltzer, Clinical Perspectives on the Supervision of Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, page 14
      FRED: Well, I teased her to some extent, or I needled her, not teased her. I needled her about—first I said that she didn't want to work, and then I think that there were a couple of comments.
    • 2015 Carl Gleba, "Megaverse in Flames", Rifts World Book 35
      To needle Lady Leviathan, Hel has convinced her husband to agree to the heartful offer.
  3. (transitive, intransitive) To form, or be formed, in the shape of a needle.
    to needle crystals