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Stilettos and slender daggers

Stilettos and slender daggers

A stiletto is a short knife or dagger with a long slender blade of various designs primarily used as a stabbing weapon. Its narrow shape, ending in a rigid pointed end, allows it to penetrate deeply. Most stilettos are not suited for cutting, even with edged examples. A typical early stiletto had a one-piece cast-metal handle. The blade was hammer-forged in a triangular blade cross section without any sharpened edges. Other examples have round, square, and diamond cross sections.

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Stilettos and slender daggers


The Italian word "stiletto" comes from the Latin stilus meaning: "a stake; a pointed instrument". The stiletto, also called a misericorde ("mercy"), began to gain fame during the High Middle Ages, when it was the secondary weapon of knights. It was used to finish off a fallen or severely wounded heavily armored opponent. The pointed, stout blade could easily pass through most mail or find its way through gaps in a knight's plate armor. A severely wounded opponent, who was not expected to survive, would be given a "mercy strike" (French coup de grâce), hence the name miséricorde. Later the Gunner's Stiletto became a tool for clearing cannon-fuse touch holes; used in the manner of an automotive oil dipstick, they were often scribed with marks indicating levels of powder charges for ranging distance.

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