treph·​i·​na·​tion ˌtre-fə-ˈnā-shən How to pronounce trephination (audio)
: an act or instance of perforating the skull with a surgical instrument

Examples of trephination in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The brother who received the trephination died soon after, the study concluded, as the bones showed no signs of healing. Matt Hrodey, Discover Magazine, 23 Feb. 2023 Having a hole surgically bored into your skull is called trephination, and it’s considered the world’s first form of surgery. Washington Post, 5 Aug. 2021 Roughly two-thirds of the skulls that have been found bearing trephination marks also show evidence of subsequent bone healing. Amy Barth, Discover Magazine, 26 Apr. 2010 The Woman's skull is a fine example of trephination - the practice of deliberately cutting holes in the skull. Neuroskeptic, Discover Magazine, 23 Mar. 2012

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'trephination.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1874, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of trephination was in 1874

Dictionary Entries Near trephination

Cite this Entry

“Trephination.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Feb. 2024.

Medical Definition


treph·​i·​na·​tion ˌtref-ə-ˈnā-shən How to pronounce trephination (audio)
: an act or instance of using a trephine (as to perforate the skull)
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