Definition of trepan in US English:


nounPlural trepans

  • A trephine (hole saw) used by surgeons for perforating the skull.

    • ‘And furthermore, he just sliced through the trepan.’

verbtrepanned, trepanning, trepans

[with object]
  • Perforate (a person's skull) with a trepan.

    • ‘They shaved his head and trepanned him to let the pressure out.’
    • ‘Its age was centuries old, he deduced; and it was holed in several places, as if it had been bled or trepanned for malady.’
    • ‘Call it trepanning without the saw and the blood but with the same effect.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.