I heard two phrases in the tv serial Three's Company like

  1. My leg fell asleep.
  2. I got the needles in my leg. (Needle is not a pin here.)

What is meant by the second sentence?
What is the difference in those two?


My first guess was that these are idioms describing a person's bodily sensations.

  1. My leg fell asleep.
  2. I got (pins and) needles in my leg.

In this case, the first sentence describes the sense of numbness felt when a temporary cessation of bloodflow has caused some part of your body to stop sending (proper) signals to the central nervous system.

The second sentence then describes the feelings that arise when the bloodflow has been restored and that body part "wakes up". The medical term for this is paresthesia.

On a second thought, the sentence

I got the needles in my leg.

could also refer to some real needles mentioned earlier in the narrative, since there a definite article before the word "needles".

On the other hand, the peson pronouncing the sentence might use it as a shortened version of the idiom "pins and needles". It all depends on the context, I guess. If sentence 2 closely follows sentence 1 and it's clear that no actual needles are involved, I guess it's safe to presume that he uses the phrase idiomatically.

  • 1
    nice and very specific answer. I checked your hyperlink which says - 'pins and needles' - My question is - do i have to say 'I got pins and needles in my leg' or can i only say 'I got needles in my leg' ? Thanks @CopperKettle – Leo Nov 24 '14 at 16:14
  • @Leo: thanks for the comment! It seems indeed to be a combination: "pins and needles". As a non-native speaker, I'm not sure whether just "needles" would be idiomatic enough. I'll add "pins" to my answer. – CowperKettle Nov 24 '14 at 16:16
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    @Leo, Ordinarily the full phrase pins and needles is required, but if it's clear from context (such having just mentioned that your leg 'was asleep'), you can get away with just needles. – Hellion Nov 24 '14 at 16:35
  • I have pins and needles that I'm sitting on. – AbraCadaver Nov 24 '14 at 20:11

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