• synonyms


[trih-fahyn, -feen]Surgery
See more synonyms for trephine on Thesaurus.com
  1. a small circular saw with a center pin mounted on a strong hollow metal shaft to which is attached a transverse handle: used in surgery to remove circular disks of bone from the skull.
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verb (used with object), tre·phined, tre·phin·ing.
  1. to operate upon with a trephine.
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Origin of trephine

1620–30; spelling variant of trefine, orig. trafine, blend of trapan (variant of trepan1) and Latin phrase trēs fīnēs three ends (the inventor's explanation)
Related formstreph·i·na·tion [tref-uh-ney-shuh n] /ˌtrɛf əˈneɪ ʃən/, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

auger, punch, implement, bit, gimlet, trephine, trepan, borer, riveter, awl, wimble, corkscrew, jackhammer, dibble, countersink

Examples from the Web for trephine

Historical Examples

  • And the use of the trephine, where the affected side can be distinguished.

    Zoonomia, Vol. II

    Erasmus Darwin

  • He had been searching for two hours when he found the trephine.

    The Pools of Silence

    H. de Vere Stacpoole

  • A trephine is just like a corkscrew, only in place of the screw you have a cup of steel.

    The Pools of Silence

    H. de Vere Stacpoole

  • From Celsus too we learn that the trephine was driven by a thong.

  • The Latin term for the trephine, modiolus, has the same meaning.

British Dictionary definitions for trephine


  1. a surgical sawlike instrument for removing circular sections of bone, esp from the skull
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  1. (tr) to remove a circular section of bone from (esp the skull)
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Also called: trepan
Derived Formstrephination (ˌtrɛfɪˈneɪʃən), noun

Word Origin

C17: from French tréphine, from obsolete English trefine trepan 1, allegedly from Latin trēs fīnēs literally: three ends; influenced also by English trepane trepan 1
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

trephine in Medicine


  1. A cylindrical or crown saw for the removal of a disk of bone, especially from the skull, or removal of other firm tissue such as that of the cornea.
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  1. To operate on with a trephine.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.