[pes-uhl, pes-tl]
a tool for pounding or grinding substances in a mortar. See illus. under mortar1.
any of various appliances for pounding, stamping, etc.
verb (used with object), pestled, pestling.
to pound or grind with or as if with a pestle.
verb (used without object), pestled, pestling.
to work with a 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 Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
pestle (ˈpɛsəl)
1.  a club-shaped instrument for mixing or grinding substances in a mortar
2.  a tool for pounding or stamping
3.  to pound (a substance or object) with or as if with a pestle
[C14: from Old French pestel, from Latin pistillum; related to pinsāre to crush]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

1272, from O.Fr. pestel, from L. pistillum "pounder, pestle," related to pinsere "to pound," from PIE *pis-to-, suffixed form of base *peis- "to crush" (cf. Skt. pinasti "pounds, crushes," pistah "anything ground, meal," Gk. ptissein "to winnow," O.C.S. piso, pichati "to push, thrust, strike," pisenica
"wheat," Rus. pseno "millet").
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

pestle pes·tle (pěs'əl, pěs'təl)
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.
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Encyclopedia Britannica


ancient device for milling by pounding. Together with the saddle quern (a round stone rolled or rubbed on a flat stone bed), it was the first means known for grinding grain; the grain was placed in a shallow depression in a stone, the mortar, and pounded with a rodlike stone, the pestle. Refined versions of the mortar and pestle have continued to find use in kitchens for preparing pastes and other finely ground elements of cuisine, in pharmacy for preparing medicines, and in chemical laboratories.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
The scientists mixed the contents using an old-fashioned mortar and pestle and
  rolled the pills to size.
Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet
  will not his foolishness depart from him.
The ingredients were combined using a traditional mortar and pestle, and then
  shaped into the early pill's typical size.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer two cups of the beans to a bowl and mash with
  the back of a wooden spoon or a pestle.
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