Definition of needle in English:

needle

noun

  • 1A very fine slender piece of polished metal with a point at one end and a hole or eye for thread at the other, used in sewing.

    ‘a darning needle’
    • ‘It could be like trying to thread a needle on a bucking bronco.’
    • ‘She could conceive a brilliant idea, get the right fabric and embellishments, but the man who sits at the sewing machine or with a needle and thread can virtually destroy her dream.’
    • ‘Assistants hold needles and thread, small scissors, and chains.’
    • ‘I got a job as a seamstress (for any sailor is handy with a needle and thread) mending clothes for the tailor.’
    • ‘After the nurse stitched the wound with a sewing needle and cotton thread, the mother and baby were transferred and treated by Dr Valle and his colleagues at the nearest hospital.’
    • ‘She found 3 different colored spools of cloth, a few basic colors of thread, a sewing needle, a cheap pair of shoes, and a comb.’
    • ‘I can no longer thread needles (I used to be a world expert at that).’
    • ‘Finally, on her twenty-seventh attempt, she let out a whoop of delight when the black thread slipped smoothly through the needle's hole.’
    • ‘I stand and look down at the needle as I thread it with ease and neatly begin stitching.’
    • ‘He watched her thread her needle again, her slender, graceful fingers never erring despite the inadequate light.’
    • ‘I prefer keeping a needle and thread on hand, just in case.’
    • ‘She sat down, smoothed out her dress, threaded the needle, and began.’
    • ‘We do not know where she got the needle from because neither of us can remember the last time we used a needle and thread.’
    • ‘You can't even take a piece of thread or a needle with you.’
    • ‘Please bring material for costumes as well as needles and thread.’
    • ‘Using sewing circles as a cover, women carried baskets of needles, thread and cloth to houses where they gathered to write, read poetry, teach and learn.’
    • ‘Pass plays could be even more frustrating, since trying to accurately throw a piece of felt with the metal catapult was like trying to thread a needle from across the room.’
    • ‘Basic hand-sewing techniques were demonstrated: a whip stitch and a straight stitch, along with how to thread a needle and make a knot.’
    • ‘Although she had never threaded a needle in her life, she discovered that she knew exactly how to alter the too-large gowns so that they would fit her tiny frame.’
    • ‘He saw an opening last Christmas, when her housekeeper was looking about for a needle and thread to fix a hole in Wilson's sweater.’
    1. 1.1 A similar, larger instrument used in crafts such as crochet, knitting, and lacemaking.
      • ‘I seem to have finally mastered knitting on two circular needles!’
      • ‘This Mohair Mystery was knit in garter stitch on size 17 needles with a decorative drop-stitch edge pattern.’
      • ‘Etta took the worn cap in her hand and looked it over while Auntie click-clacked with her crochet needles.’
      • ‘Hand knitting had almost died out in recent years, but the click of the needles is being heard again and we're all purling up to the loveliest creations.’
      • ‘Dorean picked up her knitting once more, the needles flashing in the lamplight and clicking rhythmically.’
      • ‘It's just hard to make much progress when you're knitting on 2mm needles.’
      • ‘The little girl was scrawny and short, very plain, and had frightened eyes that were focused on the two needles she was trying to knit with.’
      • ‘Later I went to Fleece Artist's website and I saw that they were saying the Goldilocks Shawl should be knit with 7 mm needles.’
      • ‘I bought this kit last week at Lettuce Knit and I started making it with 6.5mm circular needles.’
      • ‘The WI, which meets at 7.30 pm on the first Thursday of each month, provides the needles and wool and collects the knitting for the hospital.’
      • ‘She gazed up above a small knitted quilt that was quickly materializing from two long needles and her experienced fingers.’
      • ‘Last night I had to restart my hat because when I joined the knitting on the circular needles, I accidentally left a twist in it, and it was unfixable.’
      • ‘I was able to knit to gauge without changing needles or anything.’
      • ‘At the same time, they're unlikely to be ready for full-blown knitting on needles.’
      • ‘I am knitting it on 12 mm needles so I think it won't take me too long.’
      • ‘After a few more tries over the next few days, I admitted defeat and tossed the yarn, needles and my knitting confidence to the back of the closet.’
      • ‘After the hospital I was planning on going to Lettuce Knit to buy some needles but decided against it, instead made the short walk from St. Mike's to the Flatiron.’
      • ‘Mrs Bond is pleased with the response so far, with some people saying they have not knitted in years but will now take up their needles in a good cause.’
      • ‘It's not often you go to a gig and get a pre-gig knitting class with free wool and needles.’
      • ‘Today my grandma looked through my Rowan Junior book and decided that she too is going to take up the needles after a very long break from anything craft related and knit Amelia a little jumper.’
  • 2The pointed hollow end of a hypodermic syringe.

    • ‘These raw tubes are made primarily from stainless steel or other metal alloys and are the basis for subdural insertion devices such as hypodermic needles.’
    • ‘It can also spread through infected blood and shared needles or syringes contaminated with the virus.’
    • ‘The waste contained nonrecyclable plastic, as well as hypodermic needles and intravenous drip tubes.’
    • ‘If anaesthetic jelly is used, it will be squeezed into the urethra using a syringe without a needle, and will take effect in five to ten minutes.’
    • ‘For example, when planning to purchase drugs and vaccines, managers should ensure adequate supplies of syringes, needles, and gloves.’
    • ‘To give the epidural anaesthetic, the anaesthetist passes a hollow needle into a small space just below the spinal cord.’
    • ‘Reduction in injecting drug use, as indicated by reduced output in the needle and syringe programmes, would be consistent with reduction in such infections at the population level.’
    • ‘Cysts are treated by drawing off the fluid with a small needle and syringe (aspiration).’
    • ‘A lot of mess and all the other steps involved in injecting are implicated in Hep-C transmission, not just the needle and syringe.’
    • ‘Recent research indicates that flushing or soaking needles and syringes with bleach may not be effective in killing HIV.’
    • ‘A needle attached to a syringe, or to a special blood collecting container, is pushed into the vein and the syringe is used to draw out a sample of your blood.’
    • ‘A clinic that provides drug users with clean needles, syringes, and a safe place to inject could substantially reduce syringe sharing, according to a recent study.’
    • ‘Breaks in aseptic technique can introduce microbial contamination into the vial via the needle, syringe, or rubber stopper.’
    • ‘He paid a $200 fine for possession of hypodermic syringes, needles, and other paraphernalia.’
    • ‘Remove the syringe, leaving the needle in the catheter, and attach a new catheter plug.’
    • ‘They also provide sterile syringes and needles, as well as management of overdoses by medical personnel when necessary.’
    • ‘Examples include the use of hypodermic needles designed to protect healthcare workers against exposure to HIV from needle sticks.’
    • ‘Then a hollow needle is inserted into the bone, and a syringe is used to draw out the liquid-like bone marrow.’
    • ‘When collecting aspirated material or material with a needle and syringe, the specimen should not be placed on a swab.’
    • ‘Reuse of syringes and needles puts patients at risk for cross contamination and health care workers at risk if a needle-stick injury occurs.’
    1. 2.1 A very fine metal spike used in acupuncture.
      • ‘This form of Acupuncture involves using five needles on the outside of each ear.’
      • ‘Both the acupuncture needles were therefore located near the proximal and distal ends of the implanted silicone tubes, respectively.’
      • ‘Do patients generally freak out when they first see his big long disposable acupuncture needles?’
      • ‘In acupuncture treatment, fine needles are inserted into the skin at particular locations to alleviate the patient's symptoms.’
      • ‘Those are acupuncture needles, which are designed to stimulate nerve points.’
      • ‘This technique, known as digital acupuncture, utilises the same method as regular acupuncture without the needles.’
      • ‘In traditional acupuncture, needles are applied to these points.’
      • ‘Despite the needles involved, acupuncture is a much gentler science than you might think.’
      • ‘According to Chinese tradition, placing acupuncture needles in the ear affects specific organs, such as the liver and kidneys.’
      • ‘Acupressure has its origins in China and involves pressure, rather than needles, applied to acupuncture points to stimulate body hormones.’
      • ‘For sham acupuncture, the needle was inserted gently 1.5 cm lateral to the related points.’
      • ‘Mr Chirali passed around some acupuncture needles which are disposable after use so no risk of cross-infection.’
      • ‘At another conference earlier this month, she wore an acupuncture needle in the top of her ear.’
      • ‘It's similar to acupuncture but without the needles.’
      • ‘Chi-Gong is referred to as acupuncture without needles.’
      • ‘In this manner numerology strongly determines the ritual application of acupuncture needles.’
      • ‘The IR laser local stimulation next to the acupuncture needle seems to improve the circulation there.’
      • ‘This store of Qi can easily be tapped into with acupuncture needles through those cavities connecting the eight vessels to the twelve channels.’
      • ‘Some people may feel a slight sensation upon the insertion of the needle into precise acupuncture points, but this is brief and vanishes almost immediately.’
      • ‘Acupuncturists can use as many as nine types of Acupuncture needles, though only six are commonly used today.’
  • 3A thin pointer on a dial, compass, or other instrument.

    ‘the meter needle barely moved’
    • ‘The Earth's magnetic field aligns liquid particles much like tiny compass needles.’
    • ‘The compass needle aligns itself with this field (perpendicular to the wire).’
    • ‘The testing is done by passing a weak current through the circuit in which a small galvanometer is included and if the needle of the instrument moves when a connexion is made the circuit is in order.’
    • ‘A new magnetic alloy produces no net field, making it a poor choice for compass needles, but it could be used to build new devices based on electron spins.’
    • ‘The needle of that compass is kindness, simple human kindness.’
    • ‘This implies a net magnetic moment less robust than the compass needle of single-celled magnetotactic bacteria.’
    • ‘The north magnetic pole, to which compass needles point from all over the Earth, moves day by day.’
    • ‘These changes in the mind influence the tiny flow of electrical energy generated by the E-Meter, causing the needle on its dial to move.’
    • ‘Of course the weak magnet is far from being able to pick one up but the children can detect the effect by seeing that the end of their compass needle attracts itself to the coin, held near outside the plastic.’
    • ‘Then Mr. Randi caused a compass needle to deflect by about 15° and caused several watches to advance.’
    • ‘The two polar molecules act like compass needles, which are small bar magnets.’
    • ‘But in magnets, like a compass needle, more of the domains are lined up in the same direction, and so the material has an overall magnetic field.’
    • ‘What you will notice is that the compass needle swings.’
    • ‘They're like a pair of compass needles for the whole city.’
    • ‘The needle on the navigational instrument points directly to it, but you still can't spot the runway through the haze.’
    • ‘If you place a compass there, the needle won't move.’
    • ‘Getting back to the point, if we move in comparison to two objects [the needle and the printed dial], they apparently move compared to each other.’
    • ‘Some 800,000 years ago, a compass needle would have pointed south, having previously pointed north.’
    • ‘Both students and instructors will have to interpret numbers rolling up and down a screen, rather than read needles on a dial.’
    • ‘As he descends, his head is turning like the needle of an indecisive compass, his eyes taking in each and every bit of action on the docks below him.’
    indicator, pointer, marker, arrow, hand
    View synonyms
  • 4A stylus used to play records.

    ‘she wound the gramophone and lowered the needle on to the record’
    • ‘When Lacuna anesthetizes him, it will repeat endlessly in a recurring dream, skipping like a needle on a scratched record.’
    • ‘Then he held it lightly against the membrane of a yeast cell, so that like a record needle, it would record any movement and translate it into sound.’
    • ‘The opening vignette, ‘Lullaby for a Broken Dog’ is simple piano tinklings and a man's spoken words over the hiss and pop of a needle on an old record.’
    • ‘Put the needle on the record, and pump up the jam!’
    • ‘It's a nice portrait of Strummer the hipster, talking his jive talk and dropping the needle on U Roy records to a worldwide audience.’
    • ‘Drunk off the champagne, Ronan leaned in to give Rue a kiss, and surely would have if Hector had not pulled the needle off of the record, making an intolerable screeching sound.’
    • ‘An unexpected sharp vibration can cause the head to crash onto the surface of the disk, gouging it like a phonograph needle can scratch a record.’
    • ‘As the shot is made, the effects man, who has in front of him a copy of the cable message, drops the needle on an effects record and listeners hear the applause of the crowd as the shot reaches the boundary.’
    • ‘Cue the sound of a needle coming off a record abruptly.’
    • ‘The process is much like an old phonograph where the needle is the tip and the grooves in the vinyl record are the atoms.’
    • ‘It was the only band I could come up with, but man; it was like the needle dragging across the record.’
    • ‘He slowly put down the pen he had in his hand, pulled the needle off the record, and sat down.’
    • ‘Keenan is aware of the psychic sound of a needle scraped across a record.’
    • ‘Then the needle skips on the record, and the hypnotic crackle of ancient vinyl roars in rhythmic waves.’
    • ‘I put the needle on the record and we started to dance.’
    • ‘SIR - With all respect to the enthusiasm of those demanding a railway link between Bradford's two stations, the now well-worn record needs a new needle.’
    • ‘They are something I, as a member of Parliament, have been on about, to the point of being like a needle in a cracked record, for many, many years.’
    • ‘The needle broke on my record player eighteen months ago and I haven't been able to get a new one yet.’
    • ‘When the friend forgot to bring him his needles for the record player Chad attempted to re-enter the club.’
    • ‘I put the needle down on three records that never fail to change my mood.’
    1. 4.1 An etching tool.
      • ‘The hard zinc plate, the surgicality of the etching needle and processes involving machines resist any illusion of a veridical access to the world or one's own emotions.’
      • ‘Then the image is incised into the wax or resin layer with an etching needle.’
      • ‘In her last years she continued with her art, though she gave up etching due to her loss of the visual acuity required by the etching needle.’
    2. 4.2 A steel pin exploding the cartridge of a breech-loading gun.
      • ‘Sailors who have only used Jasons pistols with the more common stainless steel needles are not at risk from this type of exposure.’
  • 5The sharp, stiff, slender leaf of a fir or pine tree.

    • ‘Instead of leaves they have needles, and they spread their seeds in cones.’
    • ‘Pine trees coated the edges, and I could start to see the more tropical trees that made up the core of the forest, so both dried leaves and pine needles coated the trail.’
    • ‘Generally only a very hot fire, one fueled by drought and a heavy buildup of fallen leaves and pine needles, will kill a longleaf pine.’
    • ‘It is built of moss, pine needles, leaves, twigs, bark, and other plant material, and lined with hair.’
    • ‘I'd woken face down in pine needles and crushed leaves.’
    • ‘She could hear the dry leaves and pine needles crushing beneath the stallion's hooves.’
    • ‘Huge clusters of thorn bushes, fungus, tree roots and a carpet of dead leaves and pine needles made walking a chore.’
    • ‘The nest is built on the ground, a shallow depression under dense cover, lined with a few needles and leaves.’
    • ‘A large volume of soil can thus be sampled by analyzing appropriate parts of a tree, such as twigs, needles, leaves, or bark.’
    • ‘Woodchips, bark, grass clippings, leaves, pine needles, straw, and sawdust are examples of organic mulches.’
    • ‘Usually 1 to 2 cm thick, it is composed of needles, leaves, twigs, and is dark brown in colour.’
    • ‘Most nutrients in the soil actually come from fallen needles and leaves.’
    • ‘Shredded paper can be added to compost, so too can pine needles and gum leaves.’
    • ‘Below my leather boots the ground is covered in an endless assortment of life: bronze pine needles, lobed oak leaves, a digger wasp.’
    • ‘He didn't get very far before he collapsed into a pile of pine needles and slowly decaying leaves, hurting, weak, and exhausted.’
    • ‘The same colours ran up the striated bark of the pine trees whose needles were beginning to acquire the sated, dusty green of summer.’
    • ‘The conifers are a particularly interesting group to study as unlike cereals their leaves or needles are retained for several years.’
    • ‘Pine needles, shredded leaves, straw, and grass clippings from untreated lawns work well.’
    • ‘Nests are a shallow scrape in the ground lined with dead twigs, needles, leaves, and feathers.’
    • ‘All of a sudden across the clearing the other band burst out from between the trees in a dusting of leaves and pine needles.’
  • 6A pointed rock or peak.

    ‘just left of the needle is a steep wall for those who like bold climbing’
    top, peak, mountaintop, crest, crown, apex, vertex, apogee, tip, cap
    View synonyms
    1. 6.1 A group of rocks in the sea off the western tip of the Isle of Wight in southern England.
    2. 6.2 An obelisk.
      ‘Cleopatra's Needle’
  • 7British informal mass noun Hostility or antagonism provoked by rivalry.

    ‘there is already a little bit of needle between the sides’
    • ‘This needle match between France and Britain dates back at least to the hundred years war.’
    • ‘Shipley's first and second teams are in the West Yorkshire Super League - and when they clash they are always needle matches.’
    • ‘‘There was a bit of needle that came from the semi-final,’ he agreed.’
    • ‘Wearsiders and Teessiders can enjoy the North East needle match, Middlesbrough v Sunderland, at the Skeldergate pub on Monday night.’
    • ‘‘I've played him three times before and always beaten him, and there was a bit of needle from the start,’ Hann said.’
    • ‘11 mins: There's an interesting bit of needle going on here between Silvestre and Giannakopoulos.’
    • ‘Moyes is the referee, which is just as well as the fixture generally has a bit of needle to it: the veterans needing to continually reassert their prowess over the younger generation.’
    • ‘There's always been a bit of needle between classicists and archeologists.’
    hostility, friction, enmity, antipathy, animus, opposition, dissension, rivalry, feud, conflict, discord, contention
    View synonyms
  • 8A beam used as a temporary support during underpinning.

verb

[WITH OBJECT]
  • 1Prick or pierce with or as if with a needle.

    ‘dust needled his eyes’
    • ‘The text gave detailed descriptions of ‘the channels,’ naming the points on each, and listing their locations and how deeply each should be needled.’
    • ‘We will have the similar effect by needling the same acupoint no matter on the same or a different subject.’
    • ‘On our walk, multi-hued birds fluttered overhead in the green forest and deodar trees tall as totems from some pantheon of forest gods vied with the pines to needle the sky.’
    • ‘There have been calls for the medical profession to be better informed about how to treat farmers who've accidentally needled themselves with the OJD vaccine.’
  • 2informal Provoke or annoy (someone) by continual criticism or questioning.

    ‘I just said that to Charlie to needle him’
    • ‘But I would rather be needled by a performer than bored.’
    • ‘Throughout our conversation, as one veteran good-naturedly needles the other, all the teen-angst details come out.’
    • ‘So, for all those that think we are being racist by needling the French over this, I'd like to assure you of two things.’
    • ‘28 should be needled cautiously and superficially in those with very distended bladders.’
    goad, provoke, bait, taunt, pester, harass, prick, prod, sting
    View synonyms

Phrases

  • the eye of a needle

    • A tiny aperture through which it would seem impossible to pass (especially with reference to Matt. 19:24).

      • ‘An army of tiny red eyes met him, none larger than the eye of a needle.’
      • ‘I'd just as soon pass through the eye of a needle.’
      • ‘If it's harder for a rich man to pass through the eye of a needle then we have whole societies in trouble.’
      • ‘His heart in smashed into pieces so small they could pass through the eye of a needle.’
      • ‘I mean, if a camel can pass through the eye of a needle, anything's possible, right?’
      • ‘A supersized prole will pass through the eye of a needle before anyone not in the Party will be admitted to heaven.’
      • ‘The Christian bible quotes Jesus as saying it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter heaven; or then there's the Irish saying: ‘There are no pockets in a shroud’.’
      • ‘The Reds boss knew he was signing a world-class Argentinian midfielder with the ability to thread passes through the eye of a needle.’
      • ‘In reality, however, it may be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for bloggers to deliver you the election.’
      • ‘He might be able to pass the ball through the eye of a needle, but would you like to be beside him in the trenches?’
  • give someone the needle

    • informal Provoke or annoy someone.

      • ‘They'll get you after another one and give you the needle without a second thought about it.’
      • ‘No need to give me the needle just because someone's given it to you.’
  • a needle in a haystack

    • Something that is almost impossible to find because it is hidden among so many other things.

      ‘locating these fish can be like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack’
      • ‘However, that would be nearly as impossible as finding a needle in a haystack.’
      • ‘Without a name or date getting more information is like finding a needle in a haystack.’
      • ‘We tried to find it afterwards with the lifeguards but it was like a needle in a haystack.’
      • ‘Or maybe it's in the archives, in which case it's like looking for a needle in a haystack so you might as well give up now and go searching on someone else's page instead.’
      • ‘Trying to find a decent taxi there is like trying to find a needle in a haystack, with most of the taxis refusing to use their meter and demanding astronomical prices.’
      • ‘His company helped clients with this matter, because trying to get information on a company in this country was comparable to trying to find a needle in a haystack.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, we are looking for a needle in a haystack and you cannot hope to be able to prevent any such outrage as this.’
      • ‘He walked bulls through china shops, contrived an actual change of horses in mid-stream during an election campaign and, to publicise a piece of real estate, spent 10 days searching for a needle in a haystack.’
      • ‘The fact of the matter is, is that, in a country the size of California, that 100 weapons inspectors are not going to be able to find the equivalent of a needle in a haystack.’
      • ‘‘It is like looking for a needle in a haystack,’ said Dr Hutchin.’

Origin

Old English nǣdl, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch naald and German Nadel, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin nere ‘to spin’ and Greek nēma ‘thread’.

Pronunciation

needle

/ˈniːd(ə)l/