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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for grindstone

Historical Examples of grindstone

  • 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

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 or 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

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

Idioms and Phrases with grindstone


see nose to the grindstone.

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