pes·​tle | \ˈpe-səl, ˈpes-tᵊl \

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, 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

Use a spice grinder or mortar and pestle to grind peppercorns and coriander, separately, to a medium-fine powder. Kitty Greenwald, WSJ, "The Recipe, The Legend: Bombay Bread Bar’s Black Pepper Shrimp," 12 July 2018 Using a mortar and pestle, grind the saffron to a fine powder and set aside. Nik Sharma,, "A Brown Kitchen: Mango layer cake for a fresh summer treat," 11 July 2018 Use a mortar and pestle to crush the garlic and the anchovies to a paste; add to the bowl, along with the sour cream and mayonnaise. Sarah Fritsche,, "Recipe: Baby Iceberg Wedge Salad With Chilled Shrimp, Mint & Green Goddess," 3 July 2018 This felt like trying to use a mortar and pestle with my good arm tied behind my back. New York Times, "A Critic Sells Books Down by the Seashore," 28 June 2018 Using a mortar and pestle, crush the cardamom pods. Maya Wilson, Anchorage Daily News, "This homemade coconut iced tea is positively dreamy," 27 June 2018 With a mortar and pestle, crush the rosemary with the oil. Daniel Neman, sacbee, "Main dishes? Fruit is not forbidden," 26 June 2018 Coarsely crush cumin seeds in a mortar and pestle or with the flat side of a chef’s knife. Andy Baraghani, Bon Appetit, "Grilled Carrots with Avocado and Mint," 18 June 2018 Using a mortar and pestle, the back of a knife and a cutting board, or a mini food processor, crush the lemongrass with the salt until a coarse paste forms. Debbi Snook,, "Paula Wolfert's Indonesian Beef Satay (recipe)," 25 Apr. 2018

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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Time Traveler for pestle

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

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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 \

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on pestle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with pestle

Spanish Central: Translation of pestle

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

Comments on pestle

What made you want to look up pestle? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to make faulty or ineffective

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