A scalpel is a special kind of knife used by doctors, particularly surgeons. Scalpels are small, lightweight, and have a fine, sharp blade.
Most scalpels used in surgery have extremely sharp, removable blades that can be replaced. When a surgeon uses a scalpel, she holds it using either the “dinner knife” grip, for large incisions, or the “pencil” grip, for smaller cuts. A medical student dissecting an animal also uses a scalpel, and in some cases artists use them for making fine cuts. In Latin, a scalpellum is a “surgical knife,” from scalpere, “to carve.”