A pestle is a heavy, blunt tool used to grind things up, such as spices or herbs. If you're grinding spices, you put them in a container called a mortar and use the pestle to smash them up until they're finely ground.

The mortar and pestle was originally used by pharmacists to grind substances for medical use. Because they are sold together as sets and are always used together, many people aren't sure which is the mortar and which is the pestle. The origin of pestle is the Latin word pistillum, which means "pounder." This can help you remember that the pestle is the pounder. Also, pistillum looks like pistol, which is also held in the hand.

Definitions of pestle

n a club-shaped hand tool for grinding and mixing substances in a mortar

Type of:
hand tool
a tool used with workers' hands

n a heavy tool of stone or iron (usually with a flat base and a handle) that is used to grind and mix material (as grain or drugs or pigments) against a slab of stone

muller, pounder
Type of:
an implement used in the practice of a vocation

n machine consisting of a heavy bar that moves vertically for pounding or crushing ores

Type of:
any mechanical or electrical device that transmits or modifies energy to perform or assist in the performance of human tasks

v grind, mash or pulverize in a mortar

pestle the garlic”
Type of:
bray, comminute, crunch, grind, mash
reduce to small pieces or particles by pounding or abrading

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