Etymology: < perforate v. + -or suffix. Compare post-classical Latin perforator tool for boring holes (late 13th cent. in a British source), piercer (1404, 1526 in British sources), Old Occitan perforador (14th cent.).
a. Surg. An instrument for piercing the skull of a (dead) fetus in the birth canal in order to facilitate delivery. Also: a trephine.
1739 S. Sharp Treat. Surg. xiii. 61 Withdrawing the Perforator, leave the Waters to empty by the Canula.
1790 Med. Communications 2 454 We are under the necessity of using the perforator and crotchet.
1822 J. W. Good Study Med. IV. 210 The forceps or what, in the probability of the child’s being still alive is ten times worse, the perforator must be called into action.
1871 A. Meadows Man. Midwifery (ed. 2) 242 Rather than see the mother die undelivered, I used the perforator and extracted.
1904 Brit. Med. Jrnl. 10 Sept. 606 Douglas’s septum perforator and curved septum knife.
1985 M. F. Myles Textbk. Midwives (ed. 10) xxxv. 659 The point of the perforator‥is inserted.
b. Archaeol. A pointed (usually stone) tool for making holes.
1854 J. W. Taylor Hist. Ohio 1650–1787 14 Within these enclosures have been found stone axes, pipes, perforators, bone fish hooks, [etc.].
1901 Amer. Anthropologist 3 517 The arrowpoint illustrated belongs to the class usually called perforators, or drills.
1949 Amer. Antiq. 14 97/1 The eastern specimens do not include what Greenman has called perforators.
1998 Jrnl. Field Archaeol. 25 337/2 It [sc. a midden] contained some elite materials (including a broken jade perforator, a jaguar tooth, and a shell pendant).
c. A machine for making perforations or holes in paper, sheets of stamps, etc.
1855 Littell’s Living Age 6 Jan. 39/1 The printed sheets reach Somerset House, where Mr. Hill’s invincible perforators stab them right and left.
1876 W. H. Preece & J. Sivewright Telegraphy §119 The [Wheatstone] apparatus consists of three parts: the perforator, which prepares the message by punching holes in a paper ribbon; the transmitter‥and the receiver.
1911 Encycl. Brit. XXVI. 521/2 The Creed system‥provides a keyboard perforator which punches Morse letters or figures on a paper strip by depressing typewriter keys.
1948 Proc. Symp. Large-scale Digital Calculating Machinery 1947 (U.S. Navy Dept. & Harvard Univ.) 251 The electronic commutator controls the transfer from the registers into the teletype perforator, which in turn prepares the final tape.
1971 R. Brewer Approach to Print x. 118 (caption) Diagram of a computer typesetting system. Here the copy is taken from the ‘input perforator’ stage.
1993 Gibbons Stamp Monthly Jan. 93 35/2 The comb perforator, travelling vertically, has jumped an entire row of stamps, resulting in two of the stamps being imperforate at base.
d. A machine for tunnelling through rock; a machine for drilling holes in rock in which blasting charges are placed. Now rare.
1861 Sci. Amer. 21 Sept. 180/1 The perforators operate in the most satisfactory manner.
1891 R. Routledge Discov. & Inventions 19th Cent. (ed. 8) 267 On the 25th December, 1870, perforator No. 45 bored a hole from Italy into France, by piercing the wall of rock.
1910 Chambers’s Jrnl. Oct. 688/1 This perforator is suspended with the base uppermost, elevated by a machine similar to the ordinary pile-driver, and, when it reaches the predetermined height, automatically released.
2. Anat. A perforating artery, vein, muscle, or nerve. Freq. attrib.
1824 Philos. Trans. (Royal Soc.) 114 239 Tendons go off from each side of the perforator muscles.
1967 Acta Chirurgica Scandinavica 133 277 (title) Variations in operative technique‥in subfascial ligation of incompetent ankle perforator veins.
2003 Jrnl. Reconstructive Microsurg. 19 443 A degree of communication was found between the superficial sural artery‥and the muscle perforators from the gastrocnemius muscle.
†3. Entomol. Any of various organs used by certain insects to penetrate a surface or bore a hole; spec. an ovipositor. Obs. rare.
1828 J. Stark Elements Nat. Hist. II. 335 Tenthredo.‥ Perforator not projecting beyond the anus.
1828 J. Stark Elements Nat. Hist. II. 336 Some have the last half segment of the abdomen prolonged into a point, with a projecting perforator of three filaments.