a small, light, usually straight knife used in surgical and anatomical operations and dissections.

1735–45; < Latin scalpellum, diminutive of scalprum tool for scraping or paring (derivative of scalpere to scratch); for formation see castellum

scalpellic [skal-pel-ik] , adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
scalpel (ˈskælpəl)
a surgical knife with a short thin blade
[C18: from Latin scalpellum, from scalper a knife, from scalpere to scrape]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

1742, from L. scalpellum, dim. of scalprum "knife, chisel, tool for scraping or cutting," from scalpere "to carve, cut," related to sculpere "to carve," from PIE base *(s)kel- "to cut, cleave."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

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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Example sentences
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.
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