1. A short dagger with a tapering blade, intended primarily as a stabbing weapon.
2. A woman’s shoe with a thin, high tapering heel. A heel on a stiletto shoe.
Origin: early 17th century: from Italian, diminutive of stilo: 'dagger'
With origins like that, is it any wonder that a stiletto is a painful shoe?! So, what exactly qualifies as a stiletto?
A stiletto heel is a long, thin, high heel on shoes and boots usually intended for women. Stiletto heels can range in height from 1 inch to10 inches (or more if it has a platform sole). The key distinction is of course the very thin diameter of less than 1 cm at the ground.
Just because a heel is high does not merit the description stiletto. The original super thin Italian stiletto heels in the late 1950s and very early 1960s were no more than 5mm in diameter for much of their length, although the heel sometimes flared out a little at the top.
So what happened? Mass production: The original stiletto heel has a stem of solid steel or alloy; and sadly, the generic method of mass-producing high heels using moulded plastic with an internal metal tube for reinforcement does not make for the best method of achieving the true stiletto shape.