from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun 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.
  • noun 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.
  • noun A sharp-pointed instrument used in engraving.
  • noun A slender piece of jewel or steel used to transmit vibrations from the grooves of a phonograph record.
  • noun A slender pointer or indicator on a dial, scale, or similar part of a mechanical device.
  • noun A magnetic needle.
  • noun A hypodermic needle.
  • noun Informal A hypodermic injection; a shot.
  • noun A narrow stiff leaf, as of a pine or fir.
  • noun A fine, sharp projection, as a spine of a sea urchin or a crystal.
  • noun A tall narrow rock formation.
  • noun An obelisk.
  • noun Informal A goading, provoking, or teasing remark or act.
  • intransitive verb To prick, pierce, or stitch with a needle.
  • intransitive verb Informal To goad, provoke, or tease.
  • intransitive verb To sew or do similar work with a needle.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun plural In mining: Beams laid across a mine shaft to support a cage.
  • noun Buntons.
  • noun A small pointed instrument, straight or curved, for carrying a thread through a woven fabric, paper, leather, felt, or other material.
  • noun In a wider sense, any slender pointed instrument shaped like a needle or used in a similar way: as, a knitting-, crochet-, or engraving- needle; a surgeons' needle.
  • noun Anything resembling a needle in shape.
  • noun Specifically— A small piece of steel pointed at both ends, and balanced centrally on a pivot, such as is used in the magnetic compass, in which it points to the magnetic poles, and in the needle-telegraph, in which its deflections, produced by electric currents, are used to give indications. See compass, magnet, dipping-needle, galvanometer, and needle-telegraph.
  • noun A thin rod, usually made of copper, which is inserted in a drill-hole while this is being charged with powder. When the rod is withdrawn, it leaves a space in which can be inserted the tube of rush or grass, or the fuse, by which the charge is ignited. Also called a blasting-needle, or a nail
  • noun In w eaving, a horizontal piece of wire with an eye to receive the lifting-wire in a Jacquard loom.
  • noun A sharp pinnacle of rock; a detached pointed rock
  • noun In chem. and mineralogy, a crystal shaped like a needle; an aciform crystal.
  • noun In zool, a slender, sharp spicule; an aciculum.
  • noun In bot, a needle-shaped leaf, as of a conifer: as, a pine -needle.
  • noun In a central-fire hammerlesa gun of the variety called needle-gun, a pointed, slender, longitudinally sliding bolt or wire which, being driven forcibly forward by the spring-mechanism of the lock when the gun is tired, strikes with its front end against a fulminate or fulminating compound attached to the interior of the cartridge. The famous Prussian needle-gun is believed to be the first gun constructed to be fired on this principle. See cut under needle-gun.
  • noun In architecture, a piece of timber laid horizontally and supported on props or shores under a wall or building, etc., which it serves to sustain temporarily while the foundation or the part beneath is being altered, repaired, or underpinned.
  • noun A beam carrying a pulley at the end projecting from a building. The fall is worked by a crab inside the building.
  • To form into crystals in the shape of needles.
  • To perform or work with a needle.
  • To shoot in crystallization into the form of needles.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A small instrument of steel, sharply pointed at one end, with an eye to receive a thread, -- used in sewing.
  • noun See Magnetic needle, under Magnetic.
  • noun A slender rod or wire used in knitting; a knitting needle; also, a hooked instrument which carries the thread or twine, and by means of which knots or loops are formed in the process of netting, knitting, or crocheting.
  • noun (Bot.) One of the needle-shaped secondary leaves of pine trees. See Pinus.
  • noun Any slender, pointed object, like a needle, as a pointed crystal, a sharp pinnacle of rock, an obelisk, etc.
  • noun Informal A hypodermic needle; a syringe fitted with a hypodermic needle, used for injecting fluids into the body.
  • noun An injection of medicine from a hypodermic needle; a shot.
  • noun See under Dipping.
  • noun the reciprocating bar to which the needle of a sewing machine is attached.
  • noun (Arch.) in shoring, the horizontal cross timber which goes through the wall or a pier, and upon which the weight of the wall rests, when a building is shored up to allow of alterations in the lower part.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English nedle, from Old English nǣdl; see (s)nē- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English nedle, from Old English nædl, from Proto-Germanic *nēþlō, from pre-Germanic *neh₁-tleh₂, from Proto-Indo-European *(s)néh₁- ‘to spin, twist’ (compare Dutch naaien, Welsh nyddu, Latin nēre, Lithuanian snāju, Sanskrit snāyati ‘wraps up, winds’). Related to snood.


  • The term 'needle in a haystack' certainly seems like an appropriate comparison.

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  • The phrase needle in cotton describes the feeling that a Tai Chi practitioner should have while doing the form.


  • The phrase needle in cotton depicts the image of a needle resting in the middle of a ball of cotton.


  • The phrase needle in cotton depicts the image of a needle resting in the middle of a ball of cotton.


  • The phrase needle in cotton depicts the image of a needle resting in the middle of a ball of cotton.


  • The phrase needle in cotton depicts the image of a needle resting in the middle of a ball of cotton.


  • Pelosi believes passing a camel through the eye of a needle is an optomistic statement. history repeats

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  • At the end of the needle is a small patch of radioactive material.

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  • At the end of the needle is a small patch of radioactive material.

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  • A cheerful use of the needle is acquired in dressing these innocents; much thought, contrivance, arrangement, and prelusive affection are brought into play; and the natural avidity with which a little girl, left to her own choice, seizes, caresses, loves a doll, seems to indicate the suitableness of the amusement.

    Autobiography and Other Memorials of Mrs. Gilbert, Formerly Ann Taylor


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