[trih-fahyn, -feen]Surgery


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.

verb (used with object), tre·phined, tre·phin·ing.

to operate upon with a trephine.

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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for trephining

Historical Examples of trephining

  • I have seen results of trephining by American surgeons which could not be bettered anywhere.



  • Throughout the three campaigns of the Sleswick-Holstein war, there was only one case of trephining which gave a favorable result.

  • Accordingly a trephining was done, and these adhesions, real or supposed, were broken up.


    James J. Walsh

  • An abscess involving the turbinated bones is similar to the collection of pus in the sinuses and must be relieved by trephining.

    Special Report on Diseases of the Horse

    United States Department of Agriculture

  • After trephining the symptom improved, but got worse again; when seen by us was having one daily.

British Dictionary definitions for trephining



a surgical sawlike instrument for removing circular sections of bone, esp from the skull


(tr) to remove a circular section of bone from (esp the skull)
Also called: trepan
Derived Formstrephination (ˌtrɛfɪˈneɪʃən), noun

Word Origin for trephine

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

trephining in Medicine




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.


To operate on with a trephine.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.