Definition of pestle in US English:



  • 1A heavy tool with a rounded end, used for crushing and grinding substances such as spices or drugs, typically in a mortar.

    • ‘In a mortar and pestle we ground up mint leaves from the garden with brown sugar.’
    • ‘To make the anchovy butter, place the anchovy fillets, the teaspoon of butter and the Parmesan in a mortar and pestle and reduce it to a paste.’
    • ‘And I used cardamom seeds that I crushed in my pestle and mortar, rather than ready-ground.’
    • ‘In indigenous villages, women often make the tortillas the traditional way by grinding corn with a rounded pestle on a flat lava stone called a piedra or metate.’
    • ‘With a mortar and pestle, crush the thyme, garlic, and peppercorns and place in a large saucepan.’
    1. 1.1 A mechanical device for grinding, pounding, or stamping something.
      • ‘The dolomite powder was milled in a mechanical mortar and pestle for several hours, resulting in an average grain size of about 2 ìm.’
      • ‘The homogenate was further macerated with quartz sand (at a ratio of quartz sand to denaturing solution of 16.7-33.3 mg ml - 1) in a mortar with a pestle in a draft chamber.’


[with object]
  • Crush or grind (a substance such as a spice or drug) with a pestle.

    ‘she measured seeds into the mortar and pestled them to powder’
    • ‘So then I fried the bacon until impossibly crisp, crumbled some on my salad, placed the rest in a mortar and proceeded to pestle the remainder.’
    • ‘When well done, sticky rice is placed in mortar to pestle.’
    crush, pound, pulverize, mill, powder, granulate, grate, mince, shred, crumble, mash, smash, press, fragment, kibble
    View synonyms


Middle English: from Old French pestel, from Latin pistillum, from pist- ‘pounded’, from the verb pinsere.