Green’s Dictionary of Slang

needle v.

1. [early 19C] to haggle, esp. if one takes advantage of the other person.

2. [late 19C+] to irritate, to annoy; thus needled

3. [1940s+] to annoy someone, to tease maliciously.

4. [1950s+] to become annoyed.

5. [1920s–60s] (US) to add alcohol or ether to a non-alcoholic beer or drink, usu. by injection through the cork, thus needleman, one who does this.

6. [1940s] to insinuate oneself.

7. to encourage, to ‘prod’.

8. [1960s+] (Irish) to scrounge.

9. [1970s] (US Und.) to drill a hole, e.g. in a safe.

In derivatives

needled (adj.)

1. [late 19C+] upset, annoyed.

2. [1920s] (US) intoxicated.

3. [1930s–50s] adulterated.

In compounds

needle beer (n.) (also needled beer, ...brew, shot beer)

[1920s+] (US) beer that has been strengthened by pure alcohol or ether.

needle-man (n.)

[1930s] (US Und.) one who adulterates beer.