from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The substance or substances out of which a thing is or can be made.
  • noun Something, such as an idea or information, that is to be refined and made or incorporated into a finished effort.
  • noun Tools or apparatus for the performance of a given task.
  • noun Yard goods or cloth.
  • noun A person who is qualified or suited for a position or activity.
  • adjective Of, relating to, or composed of matter.
  • adjective Of, relating to, or affecting physical well-being; bodily.
  • adjective Of or concerned with the physical as distinct from the intellectual or spiritual.
  • adjective Being both relevant and consequential; crucial: synonym: relevant.
  • adjective Philosophy Of or relating to the matter of reasoning, rather than the form.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To render material; materialize.
  • Consisting of matter; of a physical nature; not spiritual: as, material elements; a material body.
  • Relating to or connected with matter; concerned with organic nature; affecting corporeal things or interests: as, material existence or well-being.
  • Hence Corporeal; sensuous; sensual; gross: as, material delights.
  • Pertaining to the matter or subject; of substantial import or consequence; essential; necessary; important.
  • Full of matter, or of solid sense and observation.
  • In philosophy, consisting in or pertaining to matter in the Aristotelian sense, and not to form; arising from matter of positive fact, and not from logical implication; referring to the object as it exists, and not to distinctions originating in the mind; relating to a word as an object, and not to its meaning.
  • In the law of evidence, of legal significance in the cause; having such a relation to the question in controversy that it may or ought to have some influence on the determination of the cause. See immaterial issue, under issue.
  • The material modes affect the matter of the enunciation, viz. either the subject or the predicate. For example, in this enunciation, A good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep, the word bonus or good is the mode of the subject. In this, A rhetorician speaks ornately and copiously, ornately and copiously are the modes of the predicate. Burgersdicius, tr. by a Gentleman.
  • noun Component or contributory matter or substance; that of or with which any corporeal thing is or may be constituted, made, or done: as, the materials of the soil or of disintegrated rocks; wool is the material of cloth; building- or writing-materials; war-material.
  • noun A constituent principle or element; that which composes or makes a part of anything: as, the material of one's thoughts; the materials of a drama.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The substance or matter of which anything is made or may be made.
  • noun any crude, unfinished, or elementary materials that are adapted to use only by processes of skilled labor. .
  • transitive verb obsolete To form from matter; to materialize.
  • adjective Consisting of matter; not spiritual; corporeal; physical.
  • adjective Pertaining to, or affecting, the physical nature of man, as distinguished from the mental or moral nature; relating to the bodily wants, interests, and comforts.
  • adjective Of solid or weighty character; not insubstantial; of consequence; not be dispensed with; important; significant.
  • adjective (Logic.) Pertaining to the matter, as opposed to the form, of a thing. See Matter.
  • adjective See under Cause.
  • adjective (Law) evidence which conduces to the proof or disproof of a relevant hypothesis.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Having to do with matter.
  • adjective Worldly, as opposed to spiritual.
  • adjective Significant.
  • noun Matter which may be shaped or manipulated, particularly in making something.
  • noun Text written for a specific purpose.
  • noun A sample or specimens for study.
  • noun Cloth to be made into a garment.
  • noun A person who is qualified for a certain position or activity.
  • verb obsolete, transitive To form from matter; to materialize.

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

  • adjective directly relevant to a matter especially a law case
  • noun things needed for doing or making something
  • noun artifact made by weaving or felting or knitting or crocheting natural or synthetic fibers
  • adjective concerned with or affecting physical as distinct from intellectual or psychological well-being
  • noun information (data or ideas or observations) that can be used or reworked into a finished form
  • noun a person judged suitable for admission or employment
  • noun the tangible substance that goes into the makeup of a physical object
  • adjective having substance or capable of being treated as fact; not imaginary
  • adjective having material or physical form or substance
  • adjective concerned with worldly rather than spiritual interests
  • adjective derived from or composed of matter


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

[Middle English, consisting of matter, material, from Old French, from Late Latin māteriālis, from Latin māteria, matter; see māter- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English material, from Late Latin materialis, from Latin materia "wood, material, substance" from mater "mother". Displaced native Middle English andweorc, andwork ("material, matter") (from Old English andweorc ("matter, substance, material")).


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word material.


  • If the pigeonholes are arranged in alphabetical order, for example, he may find all related material, _provided he knows the name of every related group of material_, even though very similar things may bear names as far apart as A and Z.

    The Classification of Patents United States Patent Office

  • And so with all material conditions; I say _material_, for in the spiritual life we see these things more truly as they are, and not as they appear.

    The Ghost of Guir House Charles Willing Beale 1888

  • And so with all material conditions; I say _material_, for in the spiritual life we see these things more truly as they are, and not as they appear.

    The Ghost of Guir House Charles Willing Beale 1888

  • And so with all material conditions; I say _material_, for in the spiritual life we see these things more truly as they are, and not as they appear.

    The Ghost of Guir House Charles Willing Beale 1888

  • United States, or no existing nation (relatively to the age), has never attained the point of artistic, æsthetic, social or material perfection of the Greco-Roman States; yet they fell, as I have just said, to slavery and ruin, not so much from the blows of the barbarians, as from the dissolving influence of a _material civilization_, resulting inevitably in public and private impotence and demoralization.

    Public School Education Michael M��ller 1862

  • Let us then be contented to know that the soul moves itself, modifies itself, in consequence of material causes, which act upon it which give it activity: from whence the conclusion may he said to flow consecutively, that all its operations, all its faculties, prove that it is itself _material_.

    The System of Nature, Volume 1 Paul Henri Thiry Holbach 1756

  • Today, almost all public domain material is bundled with newer, copyrighted material on DVDs, such as extra features or a new soundtrack.

    Archive 2009-05-01 Rebecca Tushnet 2009

  • Circumventing access control on public domain material is not a violation of the statute.

    Archive 2009-05-01 Rebecca Tushnet 2009

  • Most of us smaller companies and medium sized ones are buying our pre-preg material from a handful of suppliers like Hexcel, Toray, Newport, and that material is typically pre-preg (previously impregnated with epoxy resin) rather than dry cloth that is wetted on site.

    Technical Q&A with Lennard Zinn: Safe crank removal? 2010

  • Though the Iron Man writers are clearly talented, getting a complete grip on source material from the creators of that material is paramount to success.

    Iron Man Screenwriters In Talks For Mystery Marvel Film | /Film 2008


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.