[ad-uh-muhnt, -mant]

Adamant and similar words are used to refer to any especially hard substance, whether composed of diamond, some other gemstone, or some type of metal. Both adamant and diamond derive from the Greek word αδαμας (adamas), meaning "untameable". Adamantite and adamantium (a metallic name derived from the Neo-Latin ending -ium) are also common variants.

Adamantine has, throughout ancient history, referred to anything that was made of a very hard material. Virgil describes Tartarus as having a screeching gate protected by columns of solid adamantine (Aeneid book VI). Later, by the Middle Ages, the term came to refer to diamond, as it was the hardest material then known, and remains the hardest non-synthetic material known.

It was in the Middle Ages, too, that adamantine hardness and the lodestone's magnetic properties became confused and combined, leading to an alternate definition in which "adamant" means magnet, falsely derived from the Latin adamare, which means to love or be attached to. Another connection was the belief that adamant (the diamond definition) could block the effects of a magnet. This was addressed in chapter III of Pseudodoxia Epidemica, for instance.

Since the word diamond is now used for the hardest gemstone, the increasingly archaic term "adamant" has a mostly poetic or figurative use. In that capacity, the name is frequently used in popular media and fiction to refer to a very hard substance.

Adamant / Adamantine in Mythology

  • In Greek Mythology, the titan Cronus castrated his father Ouranos using an adamant sickle. An adamantine sickle or sword was also used by the hero Perseus to decapitate the Gorgon Medusa.
  • In Norse mythology, Loki is bound underground by adamantine chains. In some versions, his chains are made from the intestines of his son.
  • In the King James Version of the Bible the word adamant is also used in several verses, including:
  • :"As an adamant harder than flint have I made thy forehead: fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks, though they [be] a rebellious house." (Ezekiel 3:9) Other, later translations substitute the word diamond for adamant.
  • In John Milton's Paradise Lost (Book 1), Satan is hurled "to bottomless perdition, there to dwell in adamantine chains and penal fire". Later (Book 6), Satan's shield is described as "of tenfold adamant," and the armor worn by the angels is described as "adamantine.

Uses of the term in Fiction and Popular Culture

  • In some versions of the Alexander Romance, Alexander the Great builds walls of Adamantine, the Gates of Alexander, to keep the giants Gog and Magog from pillaging the peaceful southern lands.
  • In John Donne's Holy Sonnet I he states in line 14, "And thou like adamant draw mine iron heart".
  • In the Medieval epic poem The Faerie Queene, Sir Artagel's sword is made of Adamant.
  • In William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Helena says to Demetrius, "You draw me, you hard-hearted adamant!".
  • In J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings it is said in the second verse of Bilbo's Song of Eärendil, regarding the appearance of Eärendil; "Of adamant his helmet tall". At the crowning of King Elessar, it is said that his crown "was adorned with jewels of adamant". Also, Nenya, one of the Three Rings of Power, was described as the Ring of Adamant.
  • In the Inuyasha dub the name Adamant Barrage is given to the Kongousouha, which is an attack that shoots diamonds at the opponent.
  • In the Marvel Comics' universe, adamantium is a metal alloy which, once forged, is effectively indestructible. The metal is costly to produce and exceptionally rare. It is typically portrayed within Marvel comic books as used to create weaponry such as bullets used by various covert agencies, a triangular shield used by the vigilante known as Battlestar, and the outer skin of some of the robotic bodies of the android Ultron. It is most famously known for being bonded to the skeleton and bone claws of the X-Men character Wolverine.
  • The pop musician Stuart Goddard has assumed the name "Adam Ant" which is an obvious play on the word.
  • In the Dungeons & Dragons game universe, adamantine is an ultra-hard, expensive, rare metal found only in meteorites and veins in magical areas, used to fashion high-quality weapons and armor.
  • In Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, Lord Asriel constructs an "adamant" fortress.
  • In Mohandas K. Gandhi's autobiography, he reflects on the beauty of compromise in deciding not to fight for the right to wear a turban in the Supreme Court of South Africa. He states that "truth is hard as adamant and tender as a blossom".
  • In Princess Ida, by Gilbert and Sullivan, the hardnosed princess's castle is called Castle Adamant.
  • In the MMORPG Runescape, adamant (referred to as "adamantite") is an ore found in various mining locations in small quantites. Adamant is portrayed as a dark green metal that can be mined and then smithed to make armor and weapons, and is the second strongest metal available to free players.
  • In Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels (Part III), a fictitious flying island is made of Adamant and takes on magnetic properties, allowing its hovering ability.
  • In Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Tom Sawyer's Aunt's resolve becomes "adamantine in its firmness".
  • In Dwarf Fortress adamantine is the rarest and most valuable mineral that can be found, and it can be used to forge the most powerful of weapons and most protective of armors.
  • In Pokémon, Adamant is a nature a Pokémon can have. Its most notable aspect is that it raises the Pokémon's attack statistic but lowers its Special Attack statistic.
  • In R. A. Salvatore's Dark Elf trilogy, the adamantite is the preferred material for drow weaponry.
  • In the MMORPG World of Warcraft, Adamantite is gathered from fairly uncommon veins, and used for productions of various weapons and armor, both uncommon, rare and epic.

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