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 pestling (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 The restaurant's name is taken from the Lao word for preparing food in a mortar and pestle. Carol Deptolla, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Thum, serving Lao fare, joins Crossroads Collective on the east side," 2 June 2020 Combine all ingredients for sambal in a mortar and pestle and pound into a paste. National Geographic, "Eggplant Balado," 21 May 2020 The goal is for the peels to become dry enough that they can be ground into a powder using a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle. Tamar Adler, The New Yorker, "All the Ways to Not Waste Your Citrus Peels," 30 May 2020 When making pesto yourself, pound and crush the ingredients with a mortar and pestle to get the most out of them—their natural juices will release deliciously into a creamy paste. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, "51 International Recipes We're Tackling During Quarantine," 7 May 2020 The marble mortar and pestle comes in two sizes, with an unpolished rough interior with rings that help grind spices and herbs to release maximum flavor. Popular Science, "Beautiful mortars and pestles for any type of cooking," 18 Oct. 2019 The mill is composed of hard, calcified plates that crush the animal’s food like a mortar and pestle, reports Nick Lavars for New Atlas. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, "Lobsters Crush Ocean Plastic Into Even Smaller Pieces—and That’s Bad," 22 Apr. 2020 More than anything, this green papaya salad, made in a street cart by a woman who has been wielding her pestle for 3-plus decades, provides the perfume of Bangkok., "For three generations, a dim alley in Bangkok’s Chinatown was home to a rice porridge stand opened by an immigrant from southern China. Then, in 2017, the street stall was included in Michelin’s Bangkok edition.," 15 Dec. 2019 Women and children crushed aluminum cans by hand, pounding them with the same type of large wooden pestles used to make foufou, a staple made of plantains and cassava. Anemona Hartocollis, New York Times, "Less Trash, More Schools — One Plastic Brick at a Time," 27 July 2019

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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for pestle

Last Updated

17 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pestle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for pestle


How to pronounce pestle (audio) How to pronounce pestle (audio)

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

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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

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