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[mat-er] /ˈmæt ər/
the substance or substances of which any physical object consists or is composed:
the matter of which the earth is made.
physical or corporeal substance in general, whether solid, liquid, or gaseous, especially as distinguished from incorporeal substance, as spirit or mind, or from qualities, actions, and the like.
something that occupies space.
a particular kind of substance:
coloring matter.
a situation, state, affair, or business:
a trivial matter.
an amount or extent reckoned approximately:
a matter of 10 miles.
something of consequence:
matter for serious thought.
importance or significance:
decisions of little matter.
difficulty; trouble (usually preceded by the):
There is something the matter.
ground, reason, or cause:
a matter for complaint.
the material or substance of a discourse, book, etc., often as distinguished from its form.
things put down in words, especially printed:
reading matter.
things sent by mail:
postal matter.
a substance discharged by a living body, especially pus.
  1. that which by integrative organization forms chemical substances and living things.
  2. Aristotelianism. that which relates to form as potentiality does to actuality.
Law. statement or allegation.
  1. material for work; copy.
  2. type set up.
Christian Science. the concept of substance shaped by the limitations of the human mind.
verb (used without object)
to be of importance; signify:
It matters little.
Pathology. to suppurate.
a matter of life and death, something of vital or crucial importance.
as a matter of fact, in reality; actually; in fact:
As a matter of fact, there is no substance to that rumor.
for that matter, as far as that is concerned; as for that:
For that matter, you are no better qualified to judge than I.
Also, for the matter of that.
no matter,
  1. regardless or irrespective of:
    We'll never finish on time, no matter how hard we work.
  2. it is unimportant; it makes no difference:
    No matter, this string will do as well as any other.
Origin of matter
1175-1225; Middle English mater(e), materie < Anglo-French, Old French mat(i)ere, materie < Latin māteria woody part of a tree, material, substance, derivative of māter mother1
Related forms
matterful, adjective
matterless, adjective
nonmatter, noun
Can be confused
madder, matter.
5. question. 7. concern. 8. moment. 11. subject, topic. 19. count.
Synonym Study
1. Matter, material, stuff, substance refer to that of which physical objects are composed (though all these terms are also used abstractly). Matter, as distinct from mind and spirit, is a broad word that applies to anything perceived, or known to be occupying space: solid matter; gaseous matter. Material usually means some definite kind, quality, or quantity of matter, especially as intended for use: woolen material; a house built of good materials. Stuff, a less technical word, with approximately the same meanings as material, is characterized by being on an informal level when it refers to physical objects (Dynamite is queer stuff), and on a literary or poetic one when it is used abstractly (the stuff that dreams are made on). Substance is the matter that composes a thing, thought of in relation to its essential properties: a sticky substance. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for mattered
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It weighed down her body as well, though that mattered little indeed.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • What mattered it that the honey of it was as ashes in her mouth?

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • Whether she knew him as Le Moyne or as Edwardes mattered very little, after all.

    K Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • What mattered it, whether or no there were a silver scutcheon on the coffin-lid?

    A Bell's Biography Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Whether he were in the humour to profit by it, mattered not a jot.

British Dictionary definitions for mattered


that which makes up something, esp a physical object; material
substance that occupies space and has mass, as distinguished from substance that is mental, spiritual, etc
substance of a specified type: vegetable matter, reading matter
sometimes foll by of or for. thing; affair; concern; question: a matter of taste, several matters to attend to, no laughing matter
a quantity or amount: a matter of a few pence
the content of written or verbal material as distinct from its style or form
(used with a negative) importance; consequence
(philosophy) (in the writings of Aristotle and the Scholastics) that which is itself formless but can receive form and become substance
(philosophy) (in the Cartesian tradition) one of two basic modes of existence, the other being mind: matter being extended in space as well as time
  1. type set up, either standing or for use
  2. copy to be set in type
a secretion or discharge, such as pus
  1. something to be proved
  2. statements or allegations to be considered by a court
for that matter, as regards that
no matter
  1. regardless of; irrespective of: no matter what the excuse, you must not be late
  2. (sentence substitute) it is unimportant
the matter, wrong; the trouble: there's nothing the matter
verb (intransitive)
to be of consequence or importance
to form and discharge pus
Word Origin
C13 (n), C16 (vb): from Latin māteria cause, substance, esp wood, or a substance that produces something else; related to 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 mattered



"to be of importance or consequence," 1580s, from matter (n.). Related: Mattered; mattering.



c.1200, materie, "subject of thought, speech, or expression," from Anglo-French matere, Old French matere "subject, theme, topic; substance, content, material; character, education" (12c., Modern French matière), from Latin materia "substance from which something is made," also "hard inner wood of a tree" (cf. Portuguese madeira "wood"), from mater "origin, source, mother" (see mother (n.1)). Or, on another theory, it represents *dmateria, from PIE root *dem-/*dom- (cf. Latin domus "house," English timber). With sense development in Latin influenced by Greek hyle, of which it was the equivalent in philosophy.

Meaning "physical substance generally, matter, material" is early 14c.; that of "substance of which some specific object is made or consists of" is attested from late 14c. That of "piece of business, affair, activity, situation, circumstance" is from late 14c. From mid-14c. as "subject of a literary work, content of what is written, main theme." Also in Middle English as "cause, reasons, ground; essential character; field of investigation."

Matter of course "something expected" attested from 1739. For that matter attested from 1670s. What is the matter "what concerns (someone), the cause of the difficulty" is attested from mid-15c. To make no matter "be no difference to" also is mid-15c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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mattered in Medicine

matter mat·ter (māt'ər)

  1. Something that occupies space and can be perceived by one or more senses.

  2. A specific type of substance.

  3. Discharge or waste, such as pus or feces, from a living organism.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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mattered in Science
Something that has mass. Most of the matter in the universe is composed of atoms which are themselves composed of subatomic particles. See also energy, state of matter.

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

matter definition

In physics, something that has mass and is distinct from energy. (See phases of matter.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for mattered


Related Terms

gray matter

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with mattered
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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