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It is named after the stiletto dagger, the phrase being primarily recorded in the early 1930s. Stiletto heels may vary in length from 2.5 centimetres (1 inch) to 25 cm (10 inches) or more if a platform sole is used, and are sometimes defined as having a diameter at the ground of less than 1 cm (slightly less than half an inch). Stiletto-style heels 5 cm (2.0 in) or shorter are called kitten heels.
Not all high slim heels merit the description stiletto. The extremely slender classic Italian-style stiletto heels of the late 1950s and very early 1960s were no more than 5 mm (0.20 in) in diameter for much of their length, although the heel sometimes flared out a little at the top-piece (tip). After their demise in the mid-late 1960s, such slender heels were hard to find until recently due to changes in the way heels were mass-produced.