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See also: qüern


An Early Neolithic (3700 - 3500 BC) saddle quern and rubbing stone

Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English quern, cwerne, from Old English cweorn (quern, hand-mill, mill), from Proto-Germanic *kwernuz, *kwernō (millstone), from Proto-Indo-European *gʷérh₂nus (millstone), from Proto-Indo-European *gʷére (heavy). Cognate with North Frisian quern (quern), Dutch kweern (quern), Middle High German kurn (millstone), Icelandic kvörn (mill, quern), Danish kværn (grinder), Swedish kvarn (mill, grinder).



quern (plural querns)

  1. A mill for grinding corn, especially a hand-mill made of two circular stones.
    • 1978, Robert Nye, Merlin,
      She is shaking in ingredients from various small bottles and querns produced from the pockets of her robes, and from the drawer in the wooden table.
    • 2005, Anne Crone, Ewan Campbell, A Crannog of the First Millennium, AD: Excavations by Jack Scott at Loch Gloshan, Argyll, 1960, page 100,
      MacKie has noted that querns that were in use in Scotland up to the present day were about 450mm—600mm in diameter and that the lower stone was completely perforated to make it adjustable (MacKie 1987, 5).
    • 2009, Charles D. Hockensmith, The Millstone Industry, page 212,
      Not surprisingly, different cultures discovered the suitability of various rock types for manufacturing querns and millstones.

Derived terms[edit]



quern (third-person singular simple present querns, present participle querning, simple past and past participle querned)

  1. (transitive) To grind; to use a quern.
    • 1979, Poul Anderson, The Merman's Children, 2011, unnumbered page,
      He could almost set aside the longing for Eyjan that ever querned within him—almost—in this place so utterly sundered from everything of hers.
    • 2000, Tina Tuohy, 9: Long Handled Weaving Combs: Problems Determining the Gender of Tool-Maker and Tool-User, Moira Donald, Linda Hurcombe (editors), Gender and Material Culture in Archaeological Perspective, page 141,
      For women he thought these should include combing, spinning, querning, leather and fur-working and be associated with finds of beads, bracelets and perforated teeth.
    • 2009, Greer Gilman, Unleaving, Cloud & Ashes: Three Winter's Tales, page 262,
      Beyond this now lay only chaos and a querning sea. Time's millstones, grinding bones for bread.
    • 2011, Rachel Pope, Ian Ralston, 17: Approaching Sex and Status in Iron Age Britain with Reference to the Nearer Continent, Tom Moore, Thomas Hugh Moore, X. L. Armada (editors), Atlantic Europe in the First Millennium BC: Crossing the Divide, page 401,
      From the osteology, a supposed link between squatting facets and prehistoric women—and by extension the interpretation that women were engaged in querning activity—is not demonstrated for the Iron Age: of the thirteen with the complaint in Deal, Kent, 62 per cent were male (Anderson 1995: table 29).

See also[edit]