a primitive, hand-operated mill for grinding grain.

before 950; Middle English; Old English cweorn; akin to Old Norse kvern hand-mill

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World English Dictionary
quern (kwɜːn)
a stone hand mill for grinding corn
[Old English cweorn; related to Old Frisian quern, Old High German kurn, Old Norse kverna, Gothic quairnus millstone]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

O.E. cweorn "hand-mill, mill," from PIE base *gwern- (cf. O.N. kvern, O.Fris. quern, O.H.G. quirn, Goth. quirnus; Skt. grava "crushing stone;" Lith. girna "millstone," girnos "hand mills;" O.C.S. zrunuvi "mills;" Welsh brevan "hand mill").
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica


ancient device for grinding grain. The saddle quern, consisting simply of a flat stone bed and a rounded stone to be operated manually against it, dates from Neolithic times (before 5600 BC). The true quern, a heavy device worked by slave or animal power, appeared by Roman times. Cato the Elder describes a 2nd-century-BC rotary quern consisting of a concave lower stone and a convex upper, turned by a pair of asses. Many such large querns were found in the ruins of Pompeii. The upper stone was set on a spindle that fitted into the lower. The ground grain passed down through holes in the lower stone

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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