One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1historical A trephine (hole saw) used by surgeons for perforating the skull.
- ‘And furthermore, he just sliced through the trepan.’
2A borer for sinking shafts.
Perforate (a person's skull) with a trepan.
- ‘Call it trepanning without the saw and the blood but with the same effect.’
- ‘They shaved his head and trepanned him to let the pressure out.’
- ‘In the opening volleys at the battle of Germantown on 4 October 1777, St George was shot in the head, taken from the field and trepanned, leaving him with a large hole in the side of his skull.’
- ‘Its age was centuries old, he deduced; and it was holed in several places, as if it had been bled or trepanned for malady.’
- ‘Early on, a young boy watches his physician father heal a patient with trepanning, drilling or cutting holes in the skull to remove pressure.’
Late Middle English: the noun via medieval Latin from Greek trupanon, from trupan ‘to bore’, from trupē ‘hole’; the verb from Old French trepaner.
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