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[pes-uh l, pes-tl] /ˈpɛs əl, ˈpɛs tl/
a tool for pounding or grinding substances in a mortar.
any of various appliances for pounding, stamping, etc.
verb (used with object), pestled, pestling.
to pound or grind with or as if with a pestle.
verb (used without object), pestled, pestling.
to work with a pestle.
Origin of pestle
1300-50; Middle English pestel < Middle French < Latin pistillum, derivative of pistus, past participle of pīnsere to pound, crush Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for pestle
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He let the pestle fall from his hand and jumped as if he had been stuck with a pin.

    The Fortune Hunter Louis Joseph Vance
  • They did not see his divine informants, the axe, the tray, and the pestle.

    Aino Folk-Tales Basil Hall Chamberlain
  • But at this moment the doctor's pestle was heard in the silence, with its continued rhythm.

    Doctor Pascal Emile Zola
  • It may be, as it is elsewhere, the pestle and mortar system.

    The Curse of Education Harold E. Gorst
  • He resolved then to try to make a mortar and pestle of hard wood.

    An American Robinson Crusoe Samuel. B. Allison
  • Rub the residue with a pestle into a paste with boiling water.

    All About Coffee William H. Ukers
  • While hot, it is placed in a mortar, and pounded with a pestle.

British Dictionary definitions for pestle


a club-shaped instrument for mixing or grinding substances in a mortar
a tool for pounding or stamping
to pound (a substance or object) with or as if with a pestle
Word Origin
C14: from Old French pestel, from Latin pistillum; related to pinsāre to crush
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 pestle

mid-14c. (as a surname late 13c.), from Old French pestel, from Latin pistillum "pounder, pestle," related to pinsere "to pound," from PIE *pis-to-, suffixed form of root *peis- "to crush" (cf. Sanskrit pinasti "pounds, crushes," pistah "anything ground, meal," Greek ptissein "to winnow," Old Church Slavonic pišo, pichati "to push, thrust, strike," pišenica "wheat," Russian pseno "millet").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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pestle in Medicine

pestle pes·tle (pěs'əl, pěs'təl)
A club-shaped, hand-held tool for grinding or mashing substances in a mortar.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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