[ muh-teer-ee-uhl ]
/ məˈtɪər i əl /
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See synonyms for: material / materials / materialness on Thesaurus.com

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Origin of material

1300–50; Middle English <Late Latin māteriālis of, belonging to matter. See matter, -al1

synonym study for material

1. See matter.



material , matériel
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is a basic definition of material?

Material refers to a thing that something else is made out of. Material can also refer to cloth or can be used to describe something that is made of matter and exists in the physical world. Material has many other senses as a noun and an adjective.

If something is a housing material, it is an item that is used to build a house. Nearly anything could be a material, as long as it is possible to use it to make something else. In this sense, material is similar to the word ingredient.

  • Real-life examples: Stone, wood, metal, bamboo, and brick are used as building materials. Many toys have plastic as their primary material. Glass is a common material for windows and containers.
  • Used in a sentence: The box was made out of some sort of spongy material. 

Material is also used to refer to the cloth or fabrics that are used in weaving, sewing, or knitting.

  • Real-life examples: Wool, silk, polyester, cotton, and velvet are some common materials used to make clothing and many other products.
  • Used in a sentence: The dress was made using a very soft material. 

Material is used to describe something that is made of matter and exists in our physical reality. Think about something that isn’t material, like a ghost. A ghost is not material because it cannot be detected with any of our senses and is not made out of anything we can understand. Thoughts, feelings, and ideas are also not material. You can’t touch them or see them. In this sense, material is often used to contrast terms like spiritual, intangible, and metaphysical.

  • Real-life examples: Everything that we can experience or detect using our senses is material. This includes all things that exist in our universe, such as people, animals, rocks, water, and the stars.
  • Used in a sentence: Philosophers often think beyond the material world.

Where does material come from?

The first records of material come from around 1300. It comes from the Late Latin māteriālis, meaning “of or belonging to matter.”

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What are some other forms related to material?

  • materialness (noun)
  • prematerial (adjective)
  • quasimaterial (adjective)
  • quasimaterially (adverb)
  • transmaterial (adjective)

What are some synonyms for material?

What are some words that share a root or word element with material

What are some words that often get used in discussing material?

What are some words material may be commonly confused with?

How is material used in real life?

Material is a common word that has many different meanings. It is frequently used to refer to a substance that something is made of.

Try using material!

Is material used correctly in the following sentence?

Wood is a common material used to build tables and chairs.

How to use material in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for material

/ (məˈtɪərɪəl) /

See also materials

Derived forms of material

materialness, 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