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 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, "The Flavors of My Grief: A Food Writer’s Journey Through Recurrent Miscarriage," 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, "Misir wot is the spicy, one-pot lentil dish we’ll never tire of," 21 Apr. 2021 Grind the cardamom seeds in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Washington Post, "Misir wot is the spicy, one-pot lentil dish we’ll never tire of," 21 Apr. 2021 To prepare Thailand's most famous salad, pound garlic and chilies with a mortar and pestle. CNN, "The world's 50 best foods," 13 Apr. 2021 Place tomatillos and chiles in mortar and pestle and grind until almost smooth (or puree in blender). Leslie Limón, Woman's Day, "Tomatillo Salsa," 7 Apr. 2021 To crush the fennel seeds, pulse a few times in a spice or coffee grinder or use a mortar and pestle., "Recipes: Pasta dishes that take a break from red sauce," 31 Mar. 2021 After removing the chickpea skins, use the mortar and pestle to grind them down into a smooth paste. Lauren Corona,, "How to make hummus without a food processor," 28 Mar. 2021 The Right Way to Make Pesto Cool a mortar and pestle in your refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Tribune News Service, cleveland, "Forget avocado toast. Have you tried avocado pesto?," 18 Mar. 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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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

13 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Pestle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 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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