pes·​tle | \ ˈpe-səl How to pronounce pestle (audio) , ˈpes-tᵊl How to pronounce pestle (audio) \

Definition of pestle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a usually club-shaped implement for pounding or grinding substances in a mortar — see mortar illustration
2 : any of various devices for pounding, stamping, or pressing


pestled; pestling\ ˈpe-​s(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce pestle (audio) , ˈpes-​tᵊl-​iŋ \

Definition of pestle (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to beat, pound, or pulverize with or as if with a pestle

intransitive verb

: to work with a pestle : use a pestle

Illustration of pestle

Illustration of pestle


pestle 1 (with mortar)

In the meaning defined above

Examples of pestle in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Meanwhile, make the bagna cauda: With a mortar and pestle or the side of a broad knife, smash garlic with a pinch of salt to form a paste. Mona Talbott, WSJ, 9 June 2021 And yeah, a mortar and pestle is the key to mojo magic. Valerio Farris, Bon Appétit, 2 June 2021 Using a mortar and pestle or the back of your chef's knife, press on the herbs (still on their stems) to bruise them, releasing some of their aromas and oils. Tim Carman, Arkansas Online, 26 May 2021 Comes with a durable and attractive chrome stand, as well as a wooden pestle. Erica Van Blommestein,, 5 Apr. 2021 Toasting cumin seeds and then grinding them in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Washington Post, 20 May 2021 The floral, citrus notes from saffron, its scarlet stems ground in a mortar and pestle, and left to steep in a cup of hot water. Yasmin Khan, Vogue, 29 Apr. 2021 Crack open the pods with the back of a knife, the bottom of a solid glass, a mortar and pestle or just your fingers and remove the seeds. Washington Post, 21 Apr. 2021 Grind the cardamom seeds in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Washington Post, 21 Apr. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pestle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of pestle


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for pestle


Middle English pestel, from Anglo-French, from Latin pistillum, from pinsere to pound, crush; akin to Greek ptissein to crush, Sanskrit pinaṣṭi he pounds

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Learn More About pestle

Time Traveler for pestle

Time Traveler

The first known use of pestle was in the 14th century

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Statistics for pestle

Last Updated

18 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Pestle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for pestle



English Language Learners Definition of pestle

: a hard tool with a rounded end that is used for pounding or crushing substances (such as medicines) in a deep bowl (called a mortar)


pes·​tle | \ ˈpe-səl How to pronounce pestle (audio) \

Kids Definition of pestle

: a tool shaped like a small club for crushing substances in a mortar


pes·​tle | \ ˈpes-əl also ˈpes-tᵊl \

Medical Definition of pestle

: a usually club-shaped implement for pounding or grinding substances in a mortar

More from Merriam-Webster on pestle

Nglish: Translation of pestle for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about pestle


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