Green’s Dictionary of Slang

needle n.

1. [17C+] (later use US) the penis.

2. [late 18C–early 19C] (also rank needle) a confidence trickster [play on SE sharp/sharp n.1 (1); SE rank, extreme].

3. [late 19C+] (orig. tailoring jargon) resentment, bitterness, irritation; often in phrs. below.

4. pertaining to weapons.

(a) a club, a ‘life preserver’.

(b) a knife.

5. pertaining to drugs.

(a) [late 19C+] a hypodermic, a syringe, thus constr. with the, generic for narcotic use/addiction.

(b) in attrib. use of sense 4(c), resulting from drug use .

(c) [1900s–50s] the shaking and twitching that accompanies withdrawal from heavy cocaine usage [one’s reactions equate with those of one who has been jabbed with a needle].

(d) [1950s+] attrib. use of sense 4b, pertaining to narcotics and their injection.

(e) [1990s+] (US prison) constr. with the, a lethal injection, as used in legal executions.

6. [1930s+] (US) repetitious nagging and complaining; aggressive teasing.

7. (US) blackmail.

In compounds

embroidering needle (n.)

[] (UK und.) a short crowbar used in house-breaking.

Pertaining to the penis

In compounds

needle woman (n.) [SE woman]

[19C] a prostitute.

needlework (n.) [SE work]

[19C] sexual intercourse.

In phrases

pick a needle without eye (v.) [a SE needle without an eye is useless]

[20C+] (W.I.) of a young woman, to give oneself in marriage to a man whom one knows will be of no use as a sexual partner.

thread the needle (v.) (also play at thread the needle)

[mid-16C–late 19C] to have sexual intercourse.

Pertaining to narcotics

In compounds

needle fiend (n.) (also needle jabber, ...knight, ...pumper) [fiend n. (1)] [1920s+] (US drugs)

1. an intravenous drug addict.

2. one who fetishizes the needle and the mechanics of injection.

needle freak (n.) [-freak sfx]

1. [1960s+] (US drugs) an intravenous drug user who is as stimulated by the act of injection as by the action of the drug.

2. [1970s+] a prostitute’s sadistic client who derives pleasure from hiring a woman with large breasts and paying her for every needle she permits him to stick into her flesh.

needlehead (n.) [-head sfx (4)]

[1980s+] (US drugs) a narcotics addict.

needle man (n.) [the use of a hypodermic syringe in both occupations]

1. [1920s+] (drugs) a drug addict.

2. [1960s+] (US) a doctor.

needle neddie (n.) [? neddy n.1 (3), a horse, with pun on horse n. (7)]

[1980s+] (Aus. prison) the spoon in which one heats the heroin/water mixture prior to making an injection.

needle-nipper (n.)

[1950s] (US drugs) an intravenous narcotic addict.

needle palace (n.) (also needle house)

[1990s+] (US drugs) anywhere that narcotics drug users congregate to inject themselves.

needle park (n.) [orig. the traffic island at Broadway and 71st Street; the term was popularized by James Mills’s 1966 book The Panic In Needle Park]

[1960s+] (drugs) a variety of locations in New York City, small oases of grass in the larger world of streets and buildings, frequented by heroin users.

needle pusher (n.)

1. [1920s–30s] (US drugs) an addict who injects narcotics.

2. [1960s+] (US) a doctor or nurse.

needle shy (adj.)

[1930s–50s] (US drugs) of an addict, phobic of needles.

needleworker (n.) [SE worker]

[1910s] (US) a narcotics addict.

In phrases

bend the needle (v.)

[1950s] to make a futile attempt to withdraw from addiction.

break the needle (v.)

1. [1940s] to use up all the available drugs.

2. [1950s–70s] to attempt to end one’s addiction to narcotics.

hit the needle (v.)

[1920s+] (drugs) to inject a drug.

needled up (adj.)

[1940s] (US) addicted to narcotics.

on the needle

[1940s+] (drugs) using narcotic drugs.

Pertaining to irritation

In phrases

cop the needle (v.)

[mid-19C+] to be annoyed.

get the needle (v.) (also get the dead needle, have the spike)

[mid-19C+] to become annoyed.

give someone the needle (v.) (also ...the spike)

1. [late 19C+] to irritate.

2. [1920s] (US) to cuckold.

3. [1940s–60s] (US) to criticise.

4. [1990s+] (US) to kill.

have the needle (to) (v.) (also have the dead needle)

[20C+] to be irritated (with someone).

put in the needle (v.) (also put the needle in)

[1950s] to tease.

take the needle (v.)

[late 19C+] (Irish) to get angry.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

needle dick (n.)

see separate entry.

needle dodger (n.)

[mid-19C–1920s] a dressmaker.

needle-dodging (n.)

[1900s] dress-making.

needle jerker (n.)

[early 19C] a tailor.

needle-nose/-nosed (n.)

see separate entry.

needle-point/-pointing (n.)

see separate entry.

needle pusher (n.)

[1920s–40s] (US) a tailor.