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  1. a tool for cutting shallow holes by removing a core.
  2. Surgery. an obsolete form of the trephine resembling a carpenter's bit and brace.
verb (used with object), tre·panned, tre·pan·ning.
  1. Machinery. to cut circular disks from (plate stock) using a rotating cutter.
  2. Surgery. to operate upon with a trepan; trephine.

Origin of trepan1

1350–1400; (noun) Middle English trepane < Middle French trepan crown saw < Medieval Latin trepanum < Greek trȳ́panon borer, akin to trŷpa hole, trȳpân to bore; (v) late Middle English trepanen, derivative of the noun
Related formstrep·a·na·tion [trep-uh-ney-shuh n] /ˌtrɛp əˈneɪ ʃən/, nountre·pan·ner, noun


  1. a person who ensnares or entraps others.
  2. a stratagem; a trap.
verb (used with object), tre·panned, tre·pan·ning.
  1. to ensnare or entrap.
  2. to entice.
  3. to cheat or swindle.
Also tra·pan [truh-pan] /trəˈpæn/.

Origin of trepan2

1635–45; earlier trapan, equivalent to trap1 + -an < ?
Related formstrep·a·na·tion, trap·a·na·tion [trep-uh-ney-shuh n] /ˌtrɛp əˈneɪ ʃən/, nountre·pan·ner, tra·pan·ner, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for trepanned

Historical Examples

  • It's trepanned he ought to be; and when there's an inquest on the body, I'll declare I said so.'

    Lord Kilgobbin

    Charles Lever

  • He trepanned the skull, which appears to have been a common operation in his day.

  • "Trepanned" is a story of adventure in Virginia and the Spanish Main.

    Daisy's Aunt

    E. F. (Edward Frederic) Benson

  • The one who nursed you till the first time they trepanned you.

    Why we should read

    S. P. B. Mais

  • She broke down the day before they trepanned you the second time.

    Why we should read

    S. P. B. Mais

British Dictionary definitions for trepanned


  1. surgery an instrument resembling a carpenter's brace and bit formerly used to remove circular sections of bone (esp from the skull)Compare trephine
  2. a tool for cutting out circular blanks or for making grooves around a fixed centre
    1. the operation of cutting a hole with such a tool
    2. the hole so produced
verb -pans, -panning or -panned (tr)
  1. to cut (a hole or groove) with a trepan
  2. surgery another word for trephine
Derived Formstrepanation (ˌtrɛpəˈneɪʃən), nountrepanner, noun

Word Origin

C14: from Medieval Latin trepanum rotary saw, from Greek trupanon auger, from trupan to bore, from trupa a hole


trapan (trəˈpæn)

verb -pans, -panning or -panned (tr)
  1. to entice, ensnare, or entrap
  2. to swindle or cheat
  1. a person or thing that traps

Word Origin

C17: of uncertain origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for trepanned



c.1400, from French trépaner (14c.), from Medieval Latin trepanum "a saw for cutting out small pieces of bone from the skull," from Greek trypanon, from trypan "to bore," related to trype "hole" (cf. Old Church Slavonic truplu "hollow"), from PIE root *tere- "to rub, turn" (see throw). Related: Trepanned; trepanning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

trepanned in Medicine


  1. A trephine.
  1. To trephine.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.