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.
"to be of importance or consequence," 1580s, from matter (n.). Related: Mattered; mattering.
matter mat·ter (māt'ər)
Something that occupies space and can be perceived by one or more senses.
A specific type of substance.
Discharge or waste, such as pus or feces, from a living organism.
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.