[ pes-toh ]
/ ˈpɛs toʊ /

noun Italian Cookery.

a sauce typically made with basil, pine nuts, olive oil, and grated Parmesan blended together and served hot or cold over pasta, fish, or meat.

Nearby words

  1. pestiferously,
  2. pestilence,
  3. pestilent,
  4. pestilential,
  5. pestle,
  6. pesty,
  7. pet,
  8. pet name,
  9. pet parent,
  10. pet peeve

Origin of pesto

1935–40; < Upper Italian (compare Genoese dialect pésto pesto), Italian: noun derivative of pestare to pound, crush; see piste, pestle Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for pesto


/ (ˈpɛstəʊ) /


a sauce for pasta, consisting of basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic, oil, and Parmesan cheese, all crushed together

Word Origin for pesto

Italian, shortened form of pestato, past participle of pestare to pound, 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 pesto



olive oil-based pasta sauce, 1937, from Italian pesto, contracted form of pestato, past participle of pestare "to pound, to crush," in reference to the crushed herbs and garlic in it, from Latin root of pestle.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper