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

  • noun That which occupies space and has mass; physical substance.
  • noun A type of such substance.
  • noun Discharge or waste, such as pus or feces, from a living organism.
  • noun Philosophy In Aristotelian and Scholastic use, that which is in itself undifferentiated and formless and which, as the subject of change and development, receives form and becomes substance.
  • noun The substance of thought or expression as opposed to the manner in which it is stated or conveyed.
  • noun A subject of concern, feeling, or action: synonym: subject.
  • noun Trouble or difficulty.
  • noun An approximated quantity, amount, or extent.
  • noun Something printed or otherwise set down in writing.
  • intransitive verb To be of importance.
  • idiom (as a matter of fact) In fact; actually.
  • idiom (for that matter) So far as that is concerned; as for that.
  • idiom (no matter) Regardless of.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To be of importance; import; signify: chiefly used in negative and interrogative phrases: as, it does not matter; what does it matter?
  • To form pus; collect or be discharged, as matter in an abscess; also, to discharge pus.
  • To regard; care for; mind.
  • To approve of.
  • noun Sensible substance; that which offers resistance to touch or muscular effort; that which can be moved, strained, broken, comminuted, or otherwise modified, but which cannot be destroyed or produced; that which reacts against forces, is permanent, and preserves its identity under all changes. Matter has three states of aggregation, the solid, the liquid, and the gas eous. See solid, liquid, gas, and ether.
  • noun In philosophy: That which is in itself nothing definite, but is the subject of change and development, and by receiving a form becomes a substance; that out of which anything is made. See form.
  • noun Extended substance.
  • noun In the Kantian terminology, that which receives forms; especially, that element of cognition which comes to us from without; that which distinguishes a particular cognition from others; the purely sensuous part, independent of the representations of space and time and of every operation of thought; the content of experience.
  • noun That of which anything is or may be composed; plastic, formative, or formed material of any kind; material: as, the prime matters of textile fabrics (wool, cotton, silk, etc.); the book contains much useless matter.
  • noun Specifically, in printing: Material for work; copy: as, to keep the compositors supplied with matter.
  • noun Type set up; material to be printed from, or that has been printed from and will not again be required: in the former case called distinctively live matter, and in the latter dead matter.
  • noun In a restricted sense, mere effete substance; that which is thrown off by a living body, or which collects in it as the result of disease; pus: as, fecal matter; purulent or suppurative matter (often called simply matter); the discharge of matter from an abscess or a wound.
  • noun The material of thought or expression; the substance of a mental act or a course of thought; something existing in or brought forth by the mind; a conception or a production of the intellect considered as to its contents or significance, as distinguished from its form.
  • noun Material or occasion for thought, feeling, or expression; a subject or cause of mental operation or manifestation; intellectual basis or ground; theme; topic; source: as, matter for reflection; a matter of joy or grief.
  • noun A subject of or for consideration or action; something requiring attention or effort; material for activity; affair; concern: as, matters of state or of business.
  • noun A subject of debate or controversy; a question under discussion; a ground of difference or dispute.
  • noun An object of thought in general; a thing engaging the attention; anything under consideration indefinitely: as, that is a matter of no moment; a matter of fact.
  • noun A circumstance or condition as affecting persons or things; a state of things; especially, something requiring remedy, adjustment, or explanation: as, this is a serious matter; what is the matter?
  • noun An inducing cause or occasion; explanatory fact or circumstance; reason.
  • noun Significance; sense; meaning; import.
  • noun Ground of consideration; importance; consequence: used especially in interrogative and negative phrases, sometimes with an ellipsis of the verb.
  • noun Something indefinite as to amount or quantity; a measure, distance, time, or the like, approximately or vaguely stated.
  • noun In law: Statement or allegation: as, the court may strike out scandalous matter from a pleading.
  • noun A proceeding of a special nature, commenced by motion on petition or order to show cause, etc., as distinguished from a formal action by one party against another, commenced by process and seeking judgment: as, the matter of the application of A. B. for the appointment of a trustee.
  • noun Wood: apparently with reference to the hard stem of the vine.
  • noun The material or substance of which anything is composed. Also prime matter, materia prima.
  • noun In law, that which is fact or alleged as fact: in contradistinction to matter of law, which consists in the resulting relations, rights, and obligations which the law establishes in view of given facts. Thus, the questions whether a man executed a contract, and whether he was intoxicated at the time, relate to matters of fact; whether, if so, he is bound by the contract, and what the instrument means, are matters of law. The importance of the distinction is that in pleading allegations of the former are essential and of the latter unavailing, and that the former are usually questions for the jury, the latter for the judge.
  • noun A particular element or fact of experience.

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

  • transitive verb obsolete To regard as important; to take account of; to care for.
  • noun That of which anything is composed; constituent substance; material; the material or substantial part of anything; the constituent elements of conception; that into which a notion may be analyzed; the essence; the pith; the embodiment.
  • noun That of which the sensible universe and all existent bodies are composed; anything which has extension, occupies space, or is perceptible by the senses; body; substance.
  • noun That with regard to, or about which, anything takes place or is done; the thing aimed at, treated of, or treated; subject of action, discussion, consideration, feeling, complaint, legal action, or the like; theme.
  • noun That which one has to treat, or with which one has to do; concern; affair; business.
  • noun Affair worthy of account; thing of consequence; importance; significance; moment; -- chiefly in the phrases what matter? no matter, and the like.
  • noun Inducing cause or occasion, especially of anything disagreeable or distressing; difficulty; trouble.
  • noun Amount; quantity; portion; space; -- often indefinite.
  • noun Substance excreted from living animal bodies; that which is thrown out or discharged in a tumor, boil, or abscess; pus; purulent substance.


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

[Middle English, from Old French matere, from Latin māteria, wood, timber, matter, from māter, mother (because the woody part was seen as the source of growth); see māter- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English mater, matere, from Anglo-Norman matere, materie, from Old French materie, matiere, from Latin materia ("matter, stuff, material"), derivative of Latin mater ("mother"). Displaced native Middle English andweorc, andwork ("material, matter") (from Old English andweorc ("matter, substance, material")), Old English intinga ("matter, affair, business").


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    February 19, 2012