See more synonyms for mat on
  1. a piece of fabric made of plaited or woven rushes, straw, hemp, or similar fiber, or of some other pliant material, as rubber, used as a protective covering on a floor or other surface, to wipe the shoes on, etc.
  2. a smaller piece of material, often ornamental, set under a dish of food, a lamp, vase, etc.
  3. Sports.
    1. the padded canvas covering the entire floor of a wrestling ring, for protecting the contestants from injury when thrown.
    2. a thick pad placed on the floor for the protection of tumblers and others engaged in gymnastic sports.
  4. a thickly growing or thick and tangled mass, as of hair or weeds.
  5. a sack made of matting, as for coffee or sugar.
  6. a slablike footing of concrete, especially one for an entire building.
  7. a heavy mesh reinforcement for a concrete slab.
verb (used with object), mat·ted, mat·ting.
  1. to cover with or as if with mats or matting.
  2. to form into a mat, as by interweaving.
verb (used without object), mat·ted, mat·ting.
  1. to become entangled; form tangled masses.
  1. go to the mat, to contend or struggle in a determined or unyielding way: The president is going to the mat with Congress over the proposed budget cuts.

Origin of mat

before 900; Middle English, Old English matte < Late Latin matta mat of rushes < Semitic; compare Hebrew mittāh bed
Related formsmat·less, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for go to the mat

bear, brace, brave, confront, contend, endure, face, stomach, suffer, sustain, take, withstand

British Dictionary definitions for go to the mat


  1. a thick flat piece of fabric used as a floor covering, a place to wipe one's shoes, etc
  2. a smaller pad of material used to protect a surface from the heat, scratches, etc, of an object placed upon it
  3. a large piece of thick padded material put on the floor as a surface for wrestling, judo, or gymnastic sports
  4. NZ a Māori cloak
  5. go back to the mat NZ to abandon urban civilization
  6. any surface or mass that is densely interwoven or tangleda mat of grass and weeds
  7. the solid part of a lace design
    1. a heavy net of cable or rope laid over a blasting site to prevent the scatter of debris
    2. a heavy mesh of reinforcement in a concrete slab
    3. (esp US) a steel or concrete raft serving as a footing to support a post
  8. civil engineering short for mattress (def. 3)
verb mats, matting or matted
  1. to tangle or weave or become tangled or woven into a dense mass
  2. (tr) to cover with a mat or mats
Derived Formsmatless, adjective

Word Origin for mat

Old English matte; related to Old High German matta


  1. a border of cardboard, cloth, etc, placed around a picture to act as a frame or as a contrast between picture and frame
  2. a surface, as on metal or paint
  1. having a dull, lustreless, or roughened surface
verb mats, matting or matted (tr)
  1. to furnish (a picture) with a mat
  2. to give (a surface) a mat finish
Also (for senses 2, 4): matt

Word Origin for mat

C17: from French, literally: dead; see checkmate


  1. printing informal short for matrix (def. 5)
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

Word Origin and History for go to the mat



"sheet of backing material," 1845, from French mat "dull surface or finish" (15c.), noun use of Old French mat (adj.); see mat (adj.).



early 15c., "to make mats," from mat (n.1). From 1540s as "to provide with mats, to cover with mats;" meaning "to become tangled" is from 1570s. Related: Matted; matting.



loosely joined natural materials used as bedding, etc., Old English matte, from Late Latin matta "mat made of rushes" (4c.), probably from Punic or Phoenician matta (cf. Hebrew mittah "bed, couch"). Meaning "tangled mass" is from 1835. That of "piece of padded flooring used in gymnastics or wrestling" is attested from 1892; hence figurative phrase go to the mat "do battle" (1910). The Latin word also is the source of German Matte, matze; Dutch mat, Italian matta. French natte "mat, matting" is from Late Latin secondary form natta (cf. napkin).



1640s, "lusterless, dull" (of a color or surface), from French mat "dull, dead surface," from Old French mat "beaten down, withered, afflicted, dejected; dull," which is perhaps from Latin mattus "maudlin with drink," from madere "to be wet or sodden, be drunk," from PIE root *mad- "to be wet, drip" (see mast (n.2)). Or the French word might represent a transferred use from chess of mater "to checkmate, defeat," from Arabic (see mate (v.2)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with go to the mat

go to the mat

Fight until one side or another is victorious, as in The governor said he'd go to the mat for this bill. This term comes from wrestling and evokes the holding of an opponent when both contestants are down on the mat, the padded floor-covering used in matches. It has been used figuratively since about 1900.


see go to the mat; welcome mat.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.