This is really strange. Dictionary.com says "obdurability" isn't a word in English, but it is the ONLY translation for "强韧" in Pleco (my Chinese-English dictionary). Google.com has tons of results, but almost all of them seem to be Chinese companies describing their durable materials as having "obdurability"! Was this a typo by someone compiling a dictionary for Chinese readers that just got magnified over the years or what?

  • Are you asking whether "obdurability" is a legit English word, or you're certain it isn't and asking how Chinese came up with it?
    – NS.X.
    Commented Apr 8, 2013 at 23:10
  • I'm pretty sure that it is not a real English word. I'm curious where Chinese came up with it & how it has come to be used so broadly (over 96,000 hits on Google).
    – aelephant
    Commented Apr 8, 2013 at 23:20
  • 3
    I wonder whether it's a possible mis-derivation from the word, "obdurate" (from Latin ob "against" + dūrō "harden", from which "durability" also derives), meaning "stubbornly persistent".
    – Claw
    Commented Apr 9, 2013 at 1:30
  • You might also post this on one of the English se sites. On the topic, however, I have only seen obdurateness. In order for obdurability to exist, obdurate will need a verb usage. I am not aware of any. Commented Apr 10, 2013 at 19:14

2 Answers 2


The ABC dictionary definition in Pleco is "pliable but tough". Other dictionaries in my Pleco edition have the same definition. The only one that has yours is ADSO which is a community dictionary provided by the people of Popup Chinese.

My hypothesis about the wide-spread use of this word: In online Chinese dictionaries I often see non-existing English words being used in the translation. This seem to happen when the Chinese word doesn't exist in English and hence can't be translated by one word. There is a lot of copied material on Chinese websites. You for example also see this on the Chinese wiki alternatives. The texts on different sites on a certain topic are most of the time almost complete rip-offs. It seems that they just want to be as complete as possible with minimal effort and in this way errors are spread quite quickly.

  • Strange. Only the ADS definition appears when I search for it in my phone. I'm using only the free version, do you have purchased dictionaries?
    – aelephant
    Commented Apr 8, 2013 at 23:22
  • 1
    Yes. The free dictionaries are nice of course (I also often use them since they often have entries for slang used on the Internet), but they often lack precise definitions, examples and contain many errors.
    – BertR
    Commented Apr 9, 2013 at 4:49

You'll get a better definition if you use an actual, even paper, Chinese-English dictionary, for instance "resilient / tough and strong/durable".

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.