[pes-uh l, pes-tl]


a tool for pounding or grinding substances in a mortar.
any of various appliances for pounding, stamping, etc.

verb (used with object), pes·tled, pes·tling.

to pound or grind with or as if with a pestle.

verb (used without object), pes·tled, pes·tling.

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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pestle

Contemporary Examples of pestle

Historical Examples of pestle

  • 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

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 for pestle

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

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

pestle in Medicine


[pĕsəl, pĕstəl]


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.