Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[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. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for scalpel
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Lift edges of the skin and peel from flesh with a sharp knife or scalpel.

    Taxidermy Leon Luther Pray
  • "Wait," said Sanchez, lifting the scalpel and tilting his head.

    Wind Charles Louis Fontenay
  • Even if we had Sainte-Beuve's scalpel, we could not surprise the secret.

    The Nabob, Volume 1 (of 2) Alphonse Daudet
  • Fred, my son, bend over him with those bandages and that scalpel.

    In the Mahdi's Grasp George Manville Fenn
  • Behold, Vitangela, how the scalpel hews that form so loved by thee!

    Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf George W. M. Reynolds
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
Cite This Source
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
Cite This Source
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.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for scalpel

Word Value for scalpel

Scrabble Words With Friends