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

Combine the Szechuan and black peppercorns and coriander and cumin seeds in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and finely grind. Ben Mims,, "Szechuan Chile Hanger Steak," 26 June 2019 Andrade says, gesturing to a small mortar and pestle filled with the red peppers. Ava Garcia, azcentral, "Everyone has a side hustle. These chefs are using theirs to change dining in Phoenix," 14 Aug. 2019 Nam prik is traditionally made with a mortar and pestle, but this recipe’s chile paste is first created in a food processor then finished on the stovetop for maximum flavor and minimum fuss. Aliza Abarbanel, Bon Appétit, "Go Ahead and Fill Up on This Fiery Cashew Dip," 26 July 2019 Place the peanuts in a mortar and pestle, let cool, and roughly crush (or roughly chop with a knife); return to their bowl. Ben Mims,, "Grilled Rib-Eye Steak with Pistachio Gremolata and Charred Balsamic Broccolini," 26 June 2019 The officers had riffled through Becky and Philip’s belongings and seized their computers, cell phones, financial papers, and the mortar and pestle Philip had used to crush Becky’s pills. Ann Neumann, Harper's magazine, "Going to Extremes," 10 June 2019 Combine the cacao nibs and salt in a spice grinder, small food processor or blender (or use a mortar and pestle) and process until finely ground (a few small pieces here and there are fine). Ben Mims,, "Culinary SOS: Botanica’s Gluten-Free Buckwheat Brownies," 5 June 2019 Turn off the heat and transfer the spices to a small plate to cool, then finely grind them in a spice grinder or using a mortar and pestle. Krystyna Chávez, Marie Claire, "9 Easy Kentucky Derby Recipe Ideas You Can Whip Up In No Time," 3 May 2019 Use a mortar and pestle or spice grinder to lightly crush 4 teaspoons loose black tea, such as Darjeeling or English Breakfast, and add to butter-sugar mixture. Adina Steiman, WSJ, "This Holiday Season’s Smartest Cookie," 5 Dec. 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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Statistics for pestle

Last Updated

2 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

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 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

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 fake an opponent out of position

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