a. A slender, pointed implement used for sewing or surgical suturing, made usually of polished steel and having an eye at one end through which a length of thread is passed and held.
b. Any of various similar implements, such as a fine sharp-pointed instrument used in acupuncture or a pointed shaft used in knitting, crocheting, or lace making.
c. A sharp-pointed instrument used in engraving.
2. A slender piece of jewel or steel used to transmit vibrations from the grooves of a phonograph record.
a. A slender pointer or indicator on a dial, scale, or similar part of a mechanical device.
b. A magnetic needle.
a. A hypodermic needle.
b. Informal A hypodermic injection; a shot.
5. Chiefly Upper Northern US See dragonfly.
6. A narrow stiff leaf, as of a pine or fir.
7. A fine, sharp projection, as a spine of a sea urchin or a crystal.
a. A tall narrow rock formation.
b. An obelisk.
9. Informal A goading, provoking, or teasing remark or act.
v. nee·dled, nee·dling, nee·dles
1. To prick, pierce, or stitch with a needle.
2. Informal To goad, provoke, or tease.
To sew or do similar work with a needle.
[Middle English nedle, from Old English nǣdl; see (s)nē- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
(click for a larger image)needle
left to right: sailmaking, sewing machine, and tapestry needles
bottom right: spring needle
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.