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[mey-triks, ma-] /ˈmeɪ trɪks, ˈmæ-/
noun, plural matrices
[mey-tri-seez, ma-] /ˈmeɪ trɪˌsiz, ˈmæ-/ (Show IPA),
something that constitutes the place or point from which something else originates, takes form, or develops:
The Greco-Roman world was the matrix for Western civilization.
Anatomy. a formative part, as the corium beneath a nail.
  1. the intercellular substance of a tissue.
  2. ground substance.
Petrology. the fine-grained portion of a rock in which coarser crystals or rock fragments are embedded.
fine material, as cement, in which lumps of coarser material, as of an aggregate, are embedded.
Mining. gangue.
Metallurgy. a crystalline phase in an alloy in which other phases are embedded.
Printing. a mold for casting typefaces.
master (def 18).
Digital Technology. a grid formed by perpendicular intersections that define potential space that may be filled, as by pixels on a screen, ink in dot-matrix printing, or material in 3D printing.
(in a press or stamping machine) a multiple die or perforated block on which the material to be formed is placed.
Mathematics. a rectangular array of numbers, algebraic symbols, or mathematical functions, especially when such arrays are added and multiplied according to certain rules.
Linguistics. a rectangular display of features characterizing a set of linguistic items, especially phonemes, usually presented as a set of columns of plus or minus signs specifying the presence or absence of each feature for each item.
Also called master. a mold made by electroforming from a disk recording, from which other disks may be pressed.
Archaic. the womb.
Origin of matrix
1325-75; Middle English matris, matrix < Latin mātrix female animal kept for breeding (Late Latin: register, orig. of such beasts), parent stem (of plants), derivative of māter mother Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for matrices
Historical Examples
  • The three Vale Press founts and also the punches and matrices were destroyed when the Press ceased publishing.

    The Art of the Book Bernard H. Newdigate
  • Thus a cast is made of the matrices, and from this cast the printing is done.

    Makers of Many Things Eva March Tappan
  • The matrices thus obtained were in like manner impressed on a fusible metal, which melted at a lower temperature than the lead.

    Great Facts Frederick C. Bakewell
  • Five double-wedge justifiers will be observed between the matrices.

    Inventors at Work George Iles
  • His foundry contained punches and matrices for 400 alphabets.

  • Early seals were generally impressed on both sides; and the seals thus were produced from two dies or matrices.

  • The reason is the connexion with the corresponding theorem for the multiplication of two matrices.

  • As an operator touches its keys he releases a succession of matrices, from which is cast a line as a unit.

    Inventors at Work George Iles
  • This done, the matrices are returned to the magazine and distributed, to be again composed in new relations for succeeding lines.

    A Book of Exposition Homer Heath Nugent
  • In a normal position D receives the ears of the matrices elevated to produce the secondary characters.

    Inventors at Work George Iles
British Dictionary definitions for matrices


/ˈmeɪtrɪˌsiːz; ˈmæ-/
a plural of matrix


/ˈmeɪtrɪks; ˈmæ-/
noun (pl) matrices (ˈmeɪtrɪˌsiːz; ˈmæ-), matrixes
a substance, situation, or environment in which something has its origin, takes form, or is enclosed
(anatomy) the thick tissue at the base of a nail from which a fingernail or toenail develops
the intercellular substance of bone, cartilage, connective tissue, etc
  1. the rock material in which fossils, pebbles, etc, are embedded
  2. the material in which a mineral is embedded; gangue
  1. a metal mould for casting type
  2. a papier-mâché or plastic mould impressed from the forme and used for stereotyping Sometimes shortened to mat
(formerly) a mould used in the production of gramophone records. It is obtained by electrodeposition onto the master
a bed of perforated material placed beneath a workpiece in a press or stamping machine against which the punch operates
  1. the shaped cathode used in electroforming
  2. the metal constituting the major part of an alloy
  3. the soft metal in a plain bearing in which the hard particles of surface metal are embedded
the main component of a composite material, such as the plastic in a fibre-reinforced plastic
(maths) a rectangular array of elements set out in rows and columns, used to facilitate the solution of problems, such as the transformation of coordinates. Usually indicated by parentheses: (matrix) Compare determinant (sense 3)
(linguistics) the main clause of a complex sentence
(computing) a rectangular array of circuit elements usually used to generate one set of signals from another
(obsolete) the womb
Word Origin
C16: from Latin: womb, female animal used for breeding, from māter mother
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for matrices



late 14c., "uterus, womb," from Old French matrice "womb, uterus," from Latin matrix (genitive matricis) "pregnant animal," in Late Latin "womb," also "source, origin," from mater (genitive matris) "mother" (see mother (n.1)). Sense of "place or medium where something is developed" is first recorded 1550s; sense of "embedding or enclosing mass" first recorded 1640s. Logical sense of "array of possible combinations of truth-values" is attested from 1914. As a verb from 1951.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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matrices in Medicine

matrix ma·trix (mā'trĭks)
n. pl. ma·trix·es or ma·tri·ces (mā'trĭ-sēz', māt'rĭ-)

  1. A surrounding substance within which something else originates, develops, or is contained.

  2. The womb.

  3. The formative cells or tissue of a fingernail, toenail, or tooth.

  4. See ground substance.

  5. A specially shaped instrument, plastic material, or metal strip for holding and shaping the material used in filling a tooth cavity.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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matrices in Science
Plural matrices (mā'trĭ-sēz', māt'rĭ-) or matrixes
  1. Geology The mineral grains of a rock in which fossils are embedded.

  2. Biology The component of an animal or plant tissue that is outside the cells. Bone cells are embedded in a matrix of collagen fibers and mineral salts. Connective tissue consists of cells and extracellular fibers in a liquid called ground substance. Also called extracellular matrix.

  3. Mathematics A rectangular array of numeric or algebraic quantities subject to mathematical operations.

  4. Anatomy The formative cells or tissue of a fingernail, toenail, or tooth.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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