Definition of bodkin in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈbɒdkɪn/


1A thick, blunt needle with a large eye, used for drawing tape or cord through a hem.
Example sentences
  • Thus the body of the witch might be subjected to penetration by bodkins or needles as the insensible spot was sought.
  • Isaac Newton risked his vision by poking a bodkin beneath his eyeball to understand how we see.
  • There is a nail knot/tying tool, clipper/nipper, a bodkin - which as we all know is a needle.
1.1 historical A long pin used for fastening up the hair.
2 Printing A pointed tool used for removing pieces of metal type for correction.
3 archaic A dagger.
Example sentences
  • This situation, Durkheim reasons, maximizes the probability that the temptation for the individual to end it all with a bare bodkin will not be resisted.
  • Thankfully, the other film's plentiful bare bodkins come to rescue us from anticipation frustration.
  • The heavy draw weight of these warbows requires a significantly heavier shafted arrow, usually with some form of bodkin head, which had enough weight to strike its target with frightening power.


Middle English: perhaps of Celtic origin and related to Irish bod, Welsh bidog, Scottish Gaelic biodag 'dagger'.

  • The origin is perhaps Celtic linked with Irish bod, Welsh bidog, and Scottish Gaelic biodag ‘dagger’. This was the first sense recorded in English and is used by Shakespeare in Hamlet: ‘When he himself might his quietus make With a bare bodkin’. Another early use was for a sharp instrument for piercing cloth; now, in needlework, a bodkin is, on the contrary, blunt with a large eye for threading tape and other thick threads through material.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: bod¦kin

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.