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one of a pair of heavy flat disc-shaped stones that are rotated one against the other to grind grain



a round, dressed natural or artificial stone; the working part of a set of millstones, which hulls glumaceous crops and mills grain and other materials. Millstones working in pairs were widespread in the third and fourth centuries B.C.; prior to that grain was ground in mortars. Millstones were originally turned by humans or animals, but when they became larger in size they came to be powered by water and wind.

Millstones are made of one or several pieces (natural) or small particles (artificial) of rock. Hard types of rock such as quartzite (the best), sandstone, and granite are used for natural millstones; artificial millstones are made of crushed flint, quartzite, and emery or a mixture of emery and flint, cemented together by magnesium chloride or caustic magne-site. On their working surfaces millstones have grooves, the edges of which are the cutting parts. Millstones with sharp edges split grain particles more rapidly.



References in classic literature ?
Look, your worship," said Sancho; "what we see there are not giants but windmills, and what seem to be their arms are the sails that turned by the wind make the millstone go.
And there were Castor and Pollux, the twin brothers, who were never accused of being chicken-hearted, although they had been hatched out of an egg; and Theseus, who was so renowned for killing the Minotaur, and Lynceus, with his wonderfully sharp eyes, which could see through a millstone, or look right down into the depths of the earth, and discover the treasures that were there; and Orpheus, the very best of harpers, who sang and played upon his lyre so sweetly, that the brute beasts stood upon their hind legs, and capered merrily to the music.
This millstone of a rock broke Hector's shield inwards and threw him down on his back with the shield crushing him under it, but Apollo raised him at once.
Narmonee took my meaning in an instant, and running out of the house, returned the next moment with a huge rough mass of rock as big as a millstone, and indicated to me that that was exactly the thing I wanted.
One was ignorant of proportions and values; one was exposed to mistakes and thankful for attention, and one might give one's self away to people who would afterwards be as a millstone round one's neck: Mrs.
Soon after came up a millstone, an egg, a duck, and a pin; and Chanticleer gave them all leave to get into the carriage and go with them.
Five minutes ago you were like a millstone round my neck.
Left to fight the world alone, with the millstone of her shame around her neck, she had sunk ever lower and lower.
Poverty and zeal are an upper and a nether millstone.
She is a millstone round my neck, with all her virtues.
But if you plod along, for half an hour, over this soft, easy carpet - giving way at every step, yielding the more the harder you press, - you'll find it rather wearisome work, and be glad enough to come to a bit of good, firm rock, that won't budge an inch whether you stand, walk, or stamp upon it; and, though it be hard as the nether millstone, you'll find it the easier footing after all.