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[grahynd-stohn] /ˈgraɪndˌstoʊn/
a rotating solid stone wheel used for sharpening, shaping, etc.
a millstone.
keep / put one's nose to the grindstone, to work, study, or practice hard and steadily or to cause someone to do so:
If I put my nose to the grindstone, I'll finish the job this week.
Origin of grindstone
1175-1225; Middle English. See grind, stone Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for grindstone
Historical Examples
  • Their weapons and tools are highly polished, and have evidently been ground on a grindstone.

    English Villages P. H. Ditchfield
  • The grindstone was soon in motion; the sparks were flying off in showers.

    Barnaby Rudge Charles Dickens
  • Sparks fly from a grindstone when you are sharpening a knife.

    Common Science Carleton W. Washburne
  • Surface impurity can of course be got rid of by means of a grindstone.

    On Laboratory Arts Richard Threlfall
  • The pottery when cold may be dressed on a grindstone if necessary.

    On Laboratory Arts Richard Threlfall
  • It was more like a superior sort of traveling-tinker's grindstone than anything else.

  • The grindstone for woodworking tools is best when rather fine and soft.

    Handwork in Wood

    William Noyes
  • But a grindstone should never stand in water or it would rot.

    Handwork in Wood

    William Noyes
  • Oil is used on oilstones for the same purpose as water on a grindstone.

    Handwork in Wood

    William Noyes
  • And he pointed to a grindstone that was turning and doing its work exactly like the others.

British Dictionary definitions for grindstone


  1. a machine having a circular block of stone or composite abrasive rotated for sharpening tools or grinding metal
  2. the stone used in this machine
  3. any stone used for sharpening; whetstone
another name for millstone
keep one's nose to the grindstone, have one's nose to the grindstone, to work hard and perseveringly
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for grindstone

early 13c. "millstone," from grind (v.) in sense of "sharpen" + stone (n.); meaning "revolving stone disc used for sharpening, etc." is from c.1400. Phrase nose to the grindstone in use by 1530s; originally to get control of another and treat him harshly:

This Text holdeth their noses so hard to the grindstone, that it clean disfigureth their Faces. [John Frith, "Mirror to know Thyself," 1532]
The main modern (reflective) sense of "work hard" is from 1828.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with grindstone


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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