[mey-triks, ma-]
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noun, plural ma·tri·ces [mey-tri-seez, ma-] /ˈmeɪ trɪˌsiz, ˈmæ-/, ma·trix·es.
  1. something that constitutes the place or point from which something else originates, takes form, or develops: The Greco-Roman world was the matrix for Western civilization.
  2. Anatomy. a formative part, as the corium beneath a nail.
  3. Biology.
    1. the intercellular substance of a tissue.
    2. ground substance.
  4. Petrology. the fine-grained portion of a rock in which coarser crystals or rock fragments are embedded.
  5. fine material, as cement, in which lumps of coarser material, as of an aggregate, are embedded.
  6. Mining. gangue.
  7. Metallurgy. a crystalline phase in an alloy in which other phases are embedded.
  8. Printing. a mold for casting typefaces.
  9. master(def 18).
  10. Digital Technology a grid formed by perpendicular intersections that define potential space that may be filled, as by pixels on a screen, ink in dot-matrix printing, or material in 3D printing.
  11. (in a press or stamping machine) a multiple die or perforated block on which the material to be formed is placed.
  12. Mathematics. a rectangular array of numbers, algebraic symbols, or mathematical functions, especially when such arrays are added and multiplied according to certain rules.
  13. Linguistics. a rectangular display of features characterizing a set of linguistic items, especially phonemes, usually presented as a set of columns of plus or minus signs specifying the presence or absence of each feature for each item.
  14. Also called master. a mold made by electroforming from a disk recording, from which other disks may be pressed.
  15. Archaic. the womb.

Origin of matrix

1325–75; Middle English matris, matrix < Latin mātrix female animal kept for breeding (Late Latin: register, orig. of such beasts), parent stem (of plants), derivative of māter mother Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for matrices

origin, form, source, pattern, cast, grid, forge, model, mold, womb

Examples from the Web for matrices

Historical Examples of matrices

British Dictionary definitions for matrices


  1. a plural of matrix


noun plural matrices (ˈmeɪtrɪˌsiːz, ˈmæ-) or matrixes
  1. a substance, situation, or environment in which something has its origin, takes form, or is enclosed
  2. anatomy the thick tissue at the base of a nail from which a fingernail or toenail develops
  3. the intercellular substance of bone, cartilage, connective tissue, etc
    1. the rock material in which fossils, pebbles, etc, are embedded
    2. the material in which a mineral is embedded; gangue
  4. printing
    1. a metal mould for casting type
    2. a papier-mâché or plastic mould impressed from the forme and used for stereotypingSometimes shortened to: mat
  5. (formerly) a mould used in the production of gramophone records. It is obtained by electrodeposition onto the master
  6. a bed of perforated material placed beneath a workpiece in a press or stamping machine against which the punch operates
  7. metallurgy
    1. the shaped cathode used in electroforming
    2. the metal constituting the major part of an alloy
    3. the soft metal in a plain bearing in which the hard particles of surface metal are embedded
  8. the main component of a composite material, such as the plastic in a fibre-reinforced plastic
  9. maths a rectangular array of elements set out in rows and columns, used to facilitate the solution of problems, such as the transformation of coordinates. Usually indicated by parentheses: (a d b e c f)Compare determinant (def. 3)
  10. linguistics the main clause of a complex sentence
  11. computing a rectangular array of circuit elements usually used to generate one set of signals from another
  12. obsolete the womb

Word Origin for matrix

C16: from Latin: womb, female animal used for breeding, from 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

Word Origin and History for matrices



late 14c., "uterus, womb," from Old French matrice "womb, uterus," from Latin matrix (genitive matricis) "pregnant animal," in Late Latin "womb," also "source, origin," from mater (genitive matris) "mother" (see mother (n.1)). Sense of "place or medium where something is developed" is first recorded 1550s; sense of "embedding or enclosing mass" first recorded 1640s. Logical sense of "array of possible combinations of truth-values" is attested from 1914. As a verb from 1951.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

matrices in Medicine


n. pl. ma•trix•es
  1. A surrounding substance within which something else originates, develops, or is contained.
  2. The womb.
  3. The formative cells or tissue of a fingernail, toenail, or tooth.
  4. ground substance
  5. A specially shaped instrument, plastic material, or metal strip for holding and shaping the material used in filling a tooth cavity.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

matrices in Science


Plural matrices (trĭ-sēz′, mătrĭ-) matrixes
  1. Geology The mineral grains of a rock in which fossils are embedded.
  2. Biology The component of an animal or plant tissue that is outside the cells. Bone cells are embedded in a matrix of collagen fibers and mineral salts. Connective tissue consists of cells and extracellular fibers in a liquid called ground substance. Also called extracellular matrix
  3. Mathematics A rectangular array of numeric or algebraic quantities subject to mathematical operations.
  4. Anatomy The formative cells or tissue of a fingernail, toenail, or tooth.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.