Definition of needle in English:

needle

noun

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

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Assistants hold needles and thread, small scissors, and chains.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Finally, on her twenty-seventh attempt, she let out a whoop of delight when the black thread slipped smoothly through the needle's hole.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I got a job as a seamstress (for any sailor is handy with a needle and thread) mending clothes for the tailor.’
    • ‘It could be like trying to thread a needle on a bucking bronco.’
    • ‘Basic hand-sewing techniques were demonstrated: a whip stitch and a straight stitch, along with how to thread a needle and make a knot.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He watched her thread her needle again, her slender, graceful fingers never erring despite the inadequate light.’
    • ‘Please bring material for costumes as well as needles and thread.’
    • ‘She sat down, smoothed out her dress, threaded the needle, and began.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I can no longer thread needles (I used to be a world expert at that).’
    • ‘I prefer keeping a needle and thread on hand, just in case.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘You can't even take a piece of thread or a needle with you.’
    • ‘I stand and look down at the needle as I thread it with ease and neatly begin stitching.’
    1. 1.1 An instrument used in crafts such as crochet, knitting, and lacemaking.
      • ‘I am knitting it on 12 mm needles so I think it won't take me too long.’
      • ‘Etta took the worn cap in her hand and looked it over while Auntie click-clacked with her crochet needles.’
      • ‘This Mohair Mystery was knit in garter stitch on size 17 needles with a decorative drop-stitch edge pattern.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Dorean picked up her knitting once more, the needles flashing in the lamplight and clicking rhythmically.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She gazed up above a small knitted quilt that was quickly materializing from two long needles and her experienced fingers.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It's not often you go to a gig and get a pre-gig knitting class with free wool and 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.’
      • ‘It's just hard to make much progress when you're knitting on 2mm needles.’
      • ‘I seem to have finally mastered knitting on two circular needles!’
      • ‘I was able to knit to gauge without changing needles or anything.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘At the same time, they're unlikely to be ready for full-blown knitting on needles.’
      • ‘I bought this kit last week at Lettuce Knit and I started making it with 6.5mm circular needles.’
  • 2The pointed hollow end of a hypodermic syringe.

    • ‘Cysts are treated by drawing off the fluid with a small needle and syringe (aspiration).’
    • ‘He paid a $200 fine for possession of hypodermic syringes, needles, and other paraphernalia.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘To give the epidural anaesthetic, the anaesthetist passes a hollow needle into a small space just below the spinal cord.’
    • ‘When collecting aspirated material or material with a needle and syringe, the specimen should not be placed on a swab.’
    • ‘The waste contained nonrecyclable plastic, as well as hypodermic needles and intravenous drip tubes.’
    • ‘Recent research indicates that flushing or soaking needles and syringes with bleach may not be effective in killing HIV.’
    • ‘Reuse of syringes and needles puts patients at risk for cross contamination and health care workers at risk if a needle-stick injury occurs.’
    • ‘It can also spread through infected blood and shared needles or syringes contaminated with the virus.’
    • ‘For example, when planning to purchase drugs and vaccines, managers should ensure adequate supplies of syringes, needles, and gloves.’
    • ‘They also provide sterile syringes and needles, as well as management of overdoses by medical personnel when necessary.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Remove the syringe, leaving the needle in the catheter, and attach a new catheter plug.’
    • ‘Breaks in aseptic technique can introduce microbial contamination into the vial via the needle, syringe, or rubber stopper.’
    • ‘A lot of mess and all the other steps involved in injecting are implicated in Hep-C transmission, not just the needle and syringe.’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 2.1 A very fine metal spike used in acupuncture.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Both the acupuncture needles were therefore located near the proximal and distal ends of the implanted silicone tubes, respectively.’
      • ‘Acupressure has its origins in China and involves pressure, rather than needles, applied to acupuncture points to stimulate body hormones.’
      • ‘Acupuncturists can use as many as nine types of Acupuncture needles, though only six are commonly used today.’
      • ‘For sham acupuncture, the needle was inserted gently 1.5 cm lateral to the related points.’
      • ‘In acupuncture treatment, fine needles are inserted into the skin at particular locations to alleviate the patient's symptoms.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It's similar to acupuncture but without the needles.’
      • ‘In this manner numerology strongly determines the ritual application of acupuncture needles.’
      • ‘Chi-Gong is referred to as acupuncture without needles.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This form of Acupuncture involves using five needles on the outside of each ear.’
      • ‘Do patients generally freak out when they first see his big long disposable acupuncture needles?’
      • ‘Those are acupuncture needles, which are designed to stimulate nerve points.’
      • ‘According to Chinese tradition, placing acupuncture needles in the ear affects specific organs, such as the liver and kidneys.’
      • ‘Despite the needles involved, acupuncture is a much gentler science than you might think.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 3A thin pointer on a dial, compass, or other instrument.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The Earth's magnetic field aligns liquid particles much like tiny compass needles.’
    • ‘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 needle on the navigational instrument points directly to it, but you still can't spot the runway through the haze.’
    • ‘They're like a pair of compass needles for the whole city.’
    • ‘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 north magnetic pole, to which compass needles point from all over the Earth, moves day by day.’
    • ‘If you place a compass there, the needle won't move.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Some 800,000 years ago, a compass needle would have pointed south, having previously pointed north.’
    • ‘The two polar molecules act like compass needles, which are small bar magnets.’
    • ‘Then Mr. Randi caused a compass needle to deflect by about 15° and caused several watches to advance.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Both students and instructors will have to interpret numbers rolling up and down a screen, rather than read needles on a dial.’
    • ‘What you will notice is that the compass needle swings.’
    • ‘The compass needle aligns itself with this field (perpendicular to the wire).’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    indicator, pointer, marker, arrow, hand
    View synonyms
  • 4A stylus used to play phonograph records.

    • ‘The needle broke on my record player eighteen months ago and I haven't been able to get a new one yet.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Cue the sound of a needle coming off a record abruptly.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It was the only band I could come up with, but man; it was like the needle dragging across the record.’
    • ‘When Lacuna anesthetizes him, it will repeat endlessly in a recurring dream, skipping like a needle on a scratched record.’
    • ‘He slowly put down the pen he had in his hand, pulled the needle off the record, and sat down.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I put the needle down on three records that never fail to change my mood.’
    • ‘When the friend forgot to bring him his needles for the record player Chad attempted to re-enter the club.’
    • ‘Keenan is aware of the psychic sound of a needle scraped across a record.’
    • ‘I put the needle on the record and we started to dance.’
    • ‘Put the needle on the record, and pump up the jam!’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The process is much like an old phonograph where the needle is the tip and the grooves in the vinyl record are the atoms.’
    • ‘Then the needle skips on the record, and the hypnotic crackle of ancient vinyl roars in rhythmic waves.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 4.1 An etching tool.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
    2. 4.2 A steel pin that explodes 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.

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

    top, peak, mountaintop, crest, crown, apex, vertex, apogee, tip, cap
    View synonyms
    1. 6.1 An obelisk.
      ‘Cleopatra's Needle’
  • 7A beam used as a temporary support during underpinning.

verb

[WITH OBJECT]
  • 1Prick or pierce (something) 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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
  • 2informal Provoke or annoy (someone) by continual criticism or questioning.

    ‘I just said that to Charlie to needle him’
    • ‘28 should be needled cautiously and superficially in those with very distended bladders.’
    • ‘But I would rather be needled by a performer than bored.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Throughout our conversation, as one veteran good-naturedly needles the other, all the teen-angst details come out.’
    goad, provoke, bait, taunt, pester, harass, prick, prod, sting
    View synonyms

Phrases

  • the eye of a needle

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

      • ‘I'd just as soon pass through the eye of a needle.’
      • ‘His heart in smashed into pieces so small they could pass 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?’
      • ‘I mean, if a camel can pass through the eye of a needle, anything's possible, right?’
      • ‘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’.’
      • ‘An army of tiny red eyes met him, none larger than 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.’
      • ‘The Reds boss knew he was signing a world-class Argentinian midfielder with the ability to thread passes through the eye of a needle.’
      • ‘A supersized prole will pass through the eye of a needle before anyone not in the Party will be admitted to heaven.’
  • give someone the needle

    • informal Provoke or annoy someone.

      ‘Lady gives him the needle because she knows it isn't true’
      • ‘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.

      • ‘Unfortunately, we are looking for a needle in a haystack and you cannot hope to be able to prevent any such outrage as this.’
      • ‘‘It is like looking for a needle in a haystack,’ said Dr Hutchin.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘However, that would be nearly as impossible as finding a needle in a haystack.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Without a name or date getting more information is like finding a needle in a haystack.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We tried to find it afterwards with the lifeguards but it was like a needle in a haystack.’

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

/ˈnidl//ˈnēdl/