One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Originally: a board in a Jacquard loom, having perforations through which the ends of the needles pass. Now chiefly: a piece of board, canvas, etc., covered with short fine wires, used to press fabrics that have a pile; (also) a board or plate carrying closely spaced barbed needles, used in a needleloom.
Late 19th century. From needle + board.
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