from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A situation or surrounding substance within which something else originates, develops, or is contained: "Freedom of expression is the matrix, the indispensable condition, of nearly every form of freedom” ( Benjamin N. Cardozo).
  • n. The womb.
  • n. Anatomy The formative cells or tissue of a fingernail, toenail, or tooth.
  • n. Anatomy See ground substance.
  • n. Geology The solid matter in which a fossil or crystal is embedded.
  • n. Geology Groundmass.
  • n. A mold or die.
  • n. The principal metal in an alloy, as the iron in steel.
  • n. A binding substance, as cement in concrete.
  • n. Mathematics A rectangular array of numeric or algebraic quantities subject to mathematical operations.
  • n. Something resembling such an array, as in the regular formation of elements into columns and rows.
  • n. Computer Science The network of intersections between input and output leads in a computer, functioning as an encoder or a decoder.
  • n. Printing A mold used in stereotyping and designed to receive positive impressions of type or illustrations from which metal plates can be cast. Also called mat2.
  • n. Printing A metal plate used for casting typefaces.
  • n. An electroplated impression of a phonograph record used to make duplicate records.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The womb.
  • n. The material or tissue in which more specialized structures are embedded.
  • n. An extracellular matrix, the material or tissue between the cells of animals or plants.
  • n. Part of the mitochondrion.
  • n. The medium in which bacteria are cultured.
  • n. A rectangular arrangement of numbers or terms having various uses such as transforming coordinates in geometry, solving systems of linear equations in linear algebra and representing graphs in graph theory.
  • n. A two-dimensional array.
  • n. A table of data.
  • n. A geological matrix, the outer material of a rock consisting of larger grains embedded in a material consisting of smaller ones.
  • n. The sediment surrounding and including the artifacts, features, and other materials at a site.
  • n. The environment from which a given sample is taken.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The womb.
  • n. That which gives form or origin to anything.
  • n. The cavity in which anything is formed, and which gives it shape; a die; a mold, as for the face of a type.
  • n. The earthy or stony substance in which metallic ores or crystallized minerals are found; the gangue.
  • n. The five simple colors, black, white, blue, red, and yellow, of which all the rest are composed.
  • n. The lifeless portion of tissue, either animal or vegetable, situated between the cells; the intercellular substance.
  • n. A rectangular arrangement of symbols in rows and columns. The symbols may express quantities or operations.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The womb; the uterus.
  • n. Hence That which incloses anything, or gives origin to anything, like a womb.
  • n. In mathematics, a rectangular array of quantities, usually square: so called because considered as a mold or set of compartments into which a certain number of quantities can be put, the leaving of one of the spaces unoccupied being in effect to put zero there. :
  • n. a matrix with p columns and q rows. The types of two matrices are said to be complementary when p—p = q + q.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. (mathematics) a rectangular array of quantities or expressions set out by rows and columns; treated as a single element and manipulated according to rules
  • n. mold used in the production of phonograph records, type, or other relief surface
  • n. the body substance in which tissue cells are embedded
  • n. an enclosure within which something originates or develops (from the Latin for womb)
  • n. the formative tissue at the base of a nail
  • n. (geology) amass of fine-grained rock in which fossils, crystals, or gems are embedded


Middle English matrice, from Old French, from Late Latin mātrīx, mātrīc-, from Latin, breeding-animal, from māter, mātr-, mother; see māter- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French matrice ("pregnant animal"), from Latin mātrīx ("dam, womb"), from māter ("mother"). (Wiktionary)


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