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  1. the substance or substances of which a thing is made or composed: Stone is a durable material.
  2. anything that serves as crude or raw matter to be used or developed: Wood pulp is the raw material from which paper is made.
  3. any constituent element.
  4. a textile fabric: material for a dress.
  5. a group of ideas, facts, data, etc., that may provide the basis for or be incorporated into some integrated work: to gather material for a history of North Carolina; to write material for a comedy show.
  6. materials, the articles or apparatus needed to make or do something: writing materials.
  7. a person considered as having qualities suited to a particular sphere of activity: The boy's teachers did not think he was college material.
  1. formed or consisting of matter; physical; corporeal: the material world.
  2. relating to, concerned with, or involving matter: material forces.
  3. pertaining to the physical rather than the spiritual or intellectual aspect of things: material comforts.
  4. pertaining to or characterized by an undue interest in corporeal things; unspiritual.
  5. of substantial import; of much consequence; important: Your support will make a material difference in the success of our program.
  6. pertinent or essential (usually followed by to): a question not material to the subject at hand.
  7. Law. likely to influence the determination of a case: material evidence.
  8. Philosophy. of or relating to matter as distinguished from form.

Origin of material

1300–50; Middle English < Late Latin māteriālis of, belonging to matter. See matter, -al1
Related formsma·te·ri·al·ness, nounpre·ma·te·ri·al, adjectivequa·si-ma·te·ri·al, adjectivequa·si-ma·te·ri·al·ly, adverbsu·per·ma·te·ri·al, nountrans·ma·te·ri·al, adjectiveun·ma·te·ri·al, adjectiveun·ma·te·ri·al·ly, adverb
Can be confusedmaterial matériel

Synonym study

1. See matter.

Synonyms for material

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Antonyms for material Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for material

Contemporary Examples of material

Historical Examples of material

British Dictionary definitions for material


  1. the substance of which a thing is made or composed; component or constituent matterraw material
  2. facts, notes, etc, that a finished work may be based on or derived fromenough material for a book
  3. cloth or fabric
  4. a person who has qualities suitable for a given occupation, training, etcthat boy is not university material
  1. of, relating to, or composed of physical substance; corporeal
  2. philosophy composed of or relating to physical as opposed to mental or spiritual substancethe material world
  3. of, relating to, or affecting economic or physical wellbeingmaterial ease
  4. of or concerned with physical rather than spiritual interests
  5. of great import or consequenceof material benefit to the workers
  6. (often foll by to) relevant
  7. philosophy of or relating to matter as opposed to form
  8. law relevant to the issue before court: applied esp to facts or testimony of much significancea material witness
See also materials
Derived Formsmaterialness, noun

Word Origin for material

C14: via French from Late Latin māteriālis, from Latin māteria matter
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 material

mid-14c., "real, ordinary; earthly, drawn from the material world;" a term in scholastic philosophy and theology, from Old French material, materiel (14c.) and directly from Late Latin materialis (adj.) "of or belonging to matter," from Latin materia "matter, stuff, wood, timber" (see matter). From late 14c. as "made of matter, having material existence; material, physical, substantial;" from late 15c. as "important, relevant."


late 14c., "substance, matter from which a thing is made," from material (adj.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper