One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Any of various alloys valued for their hardness; especially (more fully "hard metal pewter") one of tin with a large quantity of copper or antimony. Now historical.
2Specifically. An alloy consisting of an aggregate of powdered carbide of tungsten, tantalum, or titanium mixed with a matrix of powdered cobalt or nickel and then compressed and sintered, giving a very hard but somewhat brittle metal with a very high melting point, used especially in making cutting tools. Chiefly attributive.
Late 16th century; earliest use found in William Harrison (1535–1593), historian and topographer. From hard + metal.
hard metal/ˌhɑːd ˈmɛt(ə)l/
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