Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A primitive hand-turned grain mill.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A mill for grinding corn, especially a hand-mill made of two circular stones
  • v. To grind.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A mill for grinding grain, the upper stone of which was turned by hand; -- used before the invention of windmills and watermills.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To grind.
  • n. A stone hand-mill for grinding grain.
  • n. The old hand-mill, or quern, such as Pennant sketched the Hebrides women grinding with in the last century, has not yet gone out; Dr. Mitchell says there are thousands of them at work in Scotland, where still
  • n. A hand-mill used for grinding pepper, mustard, and the like. Such querns were used even on the table, and as early as the sixteenth century.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a primitive stone mill for grinding corn by hand

Etymologies

Middle English querne, from Old English cweorn; see gwerə-1 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English quern, cwerne, from Old English cweorn ("quern, hand-mill, mill"), from Proto-Germanic *kwernuz, *kwernō (“millstone”), from Proto-Indo-European *gʷerǝun-, *gʷrāun- (“millstone”). Cognate with North Frisian quern ("quern"), Dutch kweern ("quern"), Middle High German kurn ("millstone"), Danish kværn ("grinder"), Swedish kvarn ("mill, grinder"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • "It's all one where I got it from; you see the quern is a good one, and the mill-stream never freezes, that's enough."

    Folk Tales Every Child Should Know

  • And Parkinson's account is to the same effect: "The seeds hereof, ground between two stones, fitted for the purpose, and called a quern, with some good vinegar added to it to make it liquid and running, is that kind of Mustard that is usually made of all sorts to serve as sauce both for fish and flesh."

    The plant-lore & garden-craft of Shakespeare

  • 'It's all one where I got it from; you see the quern is a good one, and the mill-stream never freezes, that's enough.'

    Popular Tales from the Norse

  • The feeding apparatus consists of a kind of quern for grinding corn, especially maize,

    To the Gold Coast for Gold A Personal Narrative in Two Volumes.—Volume I

  • Miryam sweeps the milled wheat out of her quern, pours in a new load of kernels.

    Evan Eisenberg: Mary Christ (Part 5)

  • She must make the butter and the cheese, grind the wheat in the quern, make and bake the bread, and in all ways earn her livelihood hard enough.

    The Water of the Wondrous Isles

  • We stopped at a little hut, where we saw an old woman grinding with the quern, the ancient Highland instrument, which it is said was used by the Romans, but which, being very slow in its operation, is almost entirely gone into disuse.

    Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides

  • Switch grass which is an energy topic I knew nothing about until about a year and a half ago when I started hearing speakers talk about diluted crispness of turning to quern based ethanol which is really energy intensity and ignoring things like switch grass.

    CNN Transcript Feb 4, 2006

  • If we really get serious about all of the bio-fuels outside quern based ethanol.

    CNN Transcript Feb 4, 2006

  • Coming up beside her, he looked with interest at her own small paper factory: a dozen big, fired-clay basins, each filled with scraps of used paper, worn-out scraps of silk and cotton, flax fibers, the soft pith of cattail reeds, and anything else she could get her hands on that might be useful, torn to shreds or ground small in a quern.

    A Breath of Snow and Ashes

Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • "Particularly since the getting of coffee would involve a trip to the stream for water, making up the campfire—oh God, the wood would be damp, even if the fire hadn't gone completely out—grinding the coffee in a stone quern and brewing it, while wet leaves blew round my ankles and drips from overhanging tree branches slithered down my neck."
    —Diana Gabaldon, The Fiery Cross (NY: Bantam Dell, 2001), 6

    January 19, 2010

  • I first ran across this word while working in a reading group with my second grade students. Who writes for seven- and eight-year olds with an archaic word like quern?

    February 10, 2007