1 of 2


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

Illustration of pestle

Illustration of pestle
  • pestle 1 (with mortar)


2 of 2


pestled; pestling ˈpe-s(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce pestle (audio)

transitive verb

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

intransitive verb

: to work with a pestle : use a pestle

Examples of pestle in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Like how she and her siblings were often roused from their dreams on weekend mornings by the sound of garlic being pummeled in a mortar and pestle, or the whine of chickpeas passing through a meat grinder to become falafel. Jordan P. Hickey, Longreads, 22 Feb. 2024 Pound dough with mortar and pestle to make a springy paste. Chantha Nguon, Condé Nast Traveler, 20 Feb. 2024 Meanwhile, in a molcajete or mortar and pestle, grind garlic and peppercorns into a smooth paste. Caron Golden, San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 Feb. 2024 Using a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle, grind the mixture into a fine powder. Jing Gao, Saveur, 31 Jan. 2024 In caves adorned with rock art, archaeologists have found pestles, a vomiting spatula and a hollow bird bone snuff tube—paraphernalia associated with attempts to commune with the spirit world. Sean Kingsley, Smithsonian Magazine, 11 Jan. 2024 Step 2 In a small food processor or mortar and pestle, blend the pecorino, 3 tablespoons of the oil, the oregano, thyme, and garlic to a paste. Saveur Editors, Saveur, 18 Jan. 2024 Transfer to a plate to cool, then finely grind in a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder. Becky Krystal, Washington Post, 17 Mar. 2023 To meet demand for the crop, enslaved Africans milled the rice by hand in a wooden mortar with a pestle until the mid-eighteenth century when mechanical milling devices were invented, Carney said. Chandelis Duster, CNN, 30 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'pestle.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



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

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

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

Dictionary Entries Near pestle

Cite this Entry

“Pestle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


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

Medical Definition


ˈpes-əl also ˈpes-tᵊl
: a usually club-shaped implement for pounding or grinding substances in a mortar

More from Merriam-Webster on pestle

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!