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

  • n. Something that occupies space and can be perceived by one or more senses; a physical body, a physical substance, or the universe as a whole.
  • n. Physics Something that has mass and exists as a solid, liquid, gas, or plasma.
  • n. A specific type of substance: inorganic matter.
  • n. Discharge or waste, such as pus or feces, from a living organism.
  • n. 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.
  • n. The substance of thought or expression as opposed to the manner in which it is stated or conveyed.
  • n. A subject of concern, feeling, or action: matters of foreign policy; a personal matter. See Synonyms at subject.
  • n. Trouble or difficulty: What's the matter with your car?
  • n. An approximated quantity, amount, or extent: The construction will last a matter of years.
  • n. Something printed or otherwise set down in writing: reading matter.
  • n. Something sent by mail.
  • n. Printing Composed type.
  • n. Printing Material to be set in type.
  • intransitive v. To be of importance: "Love is most nearly itself/When here and now cease to matter” ( T.S. Eliot). See Synonyms at count1.
  • 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: "Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take,/No matter where it's going” ( Edna St. Vincent Millay).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The basic structural component of the universe. Matter usually has mass and volume.
  • n. Matter made up of normal particles, not antiparticles. (Non-antimatter matter).
  • n. A kind of substance.
  • n. A condition, subject or affair, especially one of concern.
  • n. An approximate amount or extent.
  • n. Written material (especially in books or magazines)
  • n. Aristotelian: undeveloped potentiality subject to change and development; formlessness. Matter receives form, and becomes substance.
  • v. To be important.
  • v. To care about, to mind; to find important.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. 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.
  • n. 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.
  • n. 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.
  • n. That which one has to treat, or with which one has to do; concern; affair; business.
  • n. Affair worthy of account; thing of consequence; importance; significance; moment; -- chiefly in the phrases what matter? no matter, and the like.
  • n. Inducing cause or occasion, especially of anything disagreeable or distressing; difficulty; trouble.
  • n. Amount; quantity; portion; space; -- often indefinite.
  • n. Substance excreted from living animal bodies; that which is thrown out or discharged in a tumor, boil, or abscess; pus; purulent substance.
  • n. That which is permanent, or is supposed to be given, and in or upon which changes are effected by psychological or physical processes and relations; -- opposed to form.
  • n. Written manuscript, or anything to be set in type; copy; also, type set up and ready to be used, or which has been used, in printing.
  • intransitive v. To be of importance; to import; to signify.
  • intransitive v. To form pus or matter, as an abscess; to maturate.
  • transitive v. To regard as important; to take account of; to care for.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • 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.
  • n. 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.
  • n. 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.
  • n. Extended substance.
  • n. 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.
  • n. 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.
  • n. Specifically, in printing: Material for work; copy: as, to keep the compositors supplied with matter.
  • n. 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.
  • n. 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.
  • n. 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.
  • n. 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.
  • n. 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.
  • n. A subject of debate or controversy; a question under discussion; a ground of difference or dispute.
  • n. 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.
  • n. 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?
  • n. An inducing cause or occasion; explanatory fact or circumstance; reason.
  • n. Significance; sense; meaning; import.
  • n. Ground of consideration; importance; consequence: used especially in interrogative and negative phrases, sometimes with an ellipsis of the verb.
  • n. Something indefinite as to amount or quantity; a measure, distance, time, or the like, approximately or vaguely stated.
  • n. In law: Statement or allegation: as, the court may strike out scandalous matter from a pleading.
  • n. 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.
  • n. Wood: apparently with reference to the hard stem of the vine.
  • n. The material or substance of which anything is composed. Also prime matter, materia prima.
  • n. 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.
  • n. A particular element or fact of experience.

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

  • n. written works (especially in books or magazines)
  • n. (used with negation) having consequence
  • n. that which has mass and occupies space
  • v. have weight; have import, carry weight
  • n. a vaguely specified concern
  • n. a problem
  • n. some situation or event that is thought about


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).

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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