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[skal-puh l] /ˈskæl pəl/
a small, light, usually straight knife used in surgical and anatomical operations and dissections.
Origin of scalpel
1735-45; < Latin scalpellum, diminutive of scalprum tool for scraping or paring (derivative of scalpere to scratch); for formation see castellum
Related forms
[skal-pel-ik] /skælˈpɛl ɪk/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for scalpel
  • But the government, desperate to redeem a misguided promise, seems to be reaching for a hatchet instead of a scalpel.
  • The rest have to make do with a quick swipe across the knee with a scalpel, to mimic a surgery scar.
  • If the unions have to have their benefits trimmed, it should be with a scalpel, not with a sledgehammer.
  • Marvel at the revolutionary imaging system used to guide a surgeon's scalpel in a delicate brain-tumor operation.
  • Dramatic advances in computed tomography now provide detailed scans in ten scalpel-free seconds.
  • She took out a set of implements, including an oven baster for blowing off dust and a small scalpel, and set to work.
  • When he probed, he found he could gently push a scalpel blade to a depth of five or six millimeters.
  • Last month, while operating, he sprained one hand and then deeply cut the other with a scalpel.
  • Photographs for publication were retouched and restructured with airbrush and scalpel to make once famous personalities vanish.
  • Language is as vital to the physician's art as the stethoscope or the scalpel.
British Dictionary definitions for scalpel


a surgical knife with a short thin blade
Derived Forms
scalpellic (skælˈpɛlɪk) adjective
Word Origin
C18: from Latin scalpellum, from scalper a knife, from scalpere to scrape
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
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Word Origin and History for scalpel

1742, from Latin scalpellum "a surgical knife," diminutive of scalprum "knife, chisel, tool for scraping or cutting," from scalpere "to carve, cut," related to sculpere "to carve," from PIE root *(s)kel- "to cut, cleave" (see scale (n.1)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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scalpel in Medicine

scalpel scal·pel (skāl'pəl)
A small straight knife with a thin sharp blade used in surgery and dissection.

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