Definitions

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A fictitious substance, which, if it existed, would enable one to solve an intractable problem with ease.
  • n. An especially rare component that is almost impossible to get hold of
  • n. A high tech component that is extremely expensive

Etymologies

From unobtain- + -ium (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Whereas "unobtanium" is merely a 'placeholder' term utilized by scientists and researchers to conveniently label an element which has certain DESIRED characteristics, when discussing such an element theoretically and/or hypothetically.

    Cool Stuff: Unobtanium T-Shirt | /Film

  • And its happening in Nigeria, except the unobtanium is oil.

    what really works my nerves about avatar.

  • Doesn't it take a five-year old to realize that "unobtanium" -- the mineral in Pandora human corporations want at all costs -- is unobtainable in Afghanistan under current, if any, conditions?

    John Brown: Afghanistan as Pandora: We're there because of unobtanium!

  • Doesn't it take a five-year old to realize that "unobtanium" -- let's use the word as a generic term for mineral wealth -- is unobtainable in Afghanistan under current, if any, conditions?

    John Brown: Afghanistan As Pandora: We're There Because of Unobtanium!

  • The RDA corporation exploits Pandora's reserves of a valuable mineral called unobtanium much like Jim Cameron abuses and capitalizes on his creative team of digital artists.

    2010 Golden Globe Awards Winners - Avatar Wins Best Drama « FirstShowing.net

  • I'm not even sure you can call the unobtanium thing a joke- it wasn't funny.

    Avatar

  • Avatar is a nineteen-hour long film about a stupid ex-Marine who is employed by one of those The Companys one often hears about in science fiction movies to infiltrate the native American Indian/blue panther population of a planet because all the good stuff—a propertyless mineral called unobtanium haw haw, I write scripts and look at the Internet!

    Nick Mamatas' Journal

  • As most of you who have watched it know, it's basically about evil nasty humans strip mining and helping themselves to the resources of a far-away planet Pandora, apparently the thing they're after is called unobtanium, really original isn't it.

    Down under on the right side

  • The film, set in 2154, revolves around a paraplegic marine assigned to a planet where brutish humans are forcing the natives from their homes to mine a precious mineral, unobtanium, which is the only thing that will keep Earth going.

    The Guardian World News

  • The film, set in 2154, revolves around a paraplegic marine assigned to a planet where brutish humans are forcing the natives from their homes to mine a precious mineral, unobtanium, which is the only thing that will keep Earth going …

    Awards Daily

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Comments

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  • A material that is unobtainable, often because it doesn't exist.

    The name — often also spelled as unobtainium — combines unobtainable with the -ium suffix that marks the names of chemical elements. It refers to some useful material that suffers from the serious disadvantage that it either doesn't (yet) exist, or that it does exist but is so rare that even folding money can't get you any. It's a potent excuse for non-delivery: if only you had some unobtanium, you say apologetically, creating the required result would be easy-peasy; without it, it's impossible. The appeal of the word unobtanium is so great that at least two manufacturers in the US have in recent years used it for their products — for example, a maker of sunglasses has trademarked it for earpieces. You might regard this as a triumph of the forces of promotion and PR over those of technology. The firm claims a first use of the name in 1987. However, the term is known from the motor racing world in the 1970s, as a humorous way of explaining why specialist spare parts were so expensive — they were made from unobtanium.

    One must be careful to distinguish between unobtanium and handwavium. Unobtanium is something that might conceivably exist. Contrariwise, handwavium refers to a way of circumventing a problem by breaking the laws of physics, as if one might banish an insuperable objection by waving a hand at it. Bad science-fiction stories often employ handwavium to solve knotty problems. Star Trek is full of such devices, such as the replicator, the transporter or the phaser (which disintegrates a person neatly without a hint of energy release or even a puff of steam). Any writer who creates a faster-than-light space drive, for example, is employing handwavium, though this device is so consecrated by its widespread use and utility as to be acceptable within the SF genre.
    (from World Wide Words)

    May 22, 2008

  • Yes.. and don't forget swankonite!

    June 13, 2007

  • Hmm...is this element in the same group as impossibillium?

    June 12, 2007

  • I use it to describe the color fabric that I really need that i just can't find.

    June 12, 2007

  • Bicyclists use this term to describe material used in a bike frame or component that is way light and too expensive.

    June 11, 2007