[ mat-er ]
/ ˈmæt ər /
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See synonyms for: matter / mattered / mattering / matters on Thesaurus.com

verb (used without object)
to be of importance; signify: It matters little.
Pathology. to suppurate.
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Idioms about matter

Origin of matter

First recorded in 1175–1225; Middle English mater(e), materie, from Anglo-French, Old French mat(i)ere, materie, from Latin māteria “woody part of a tree, material, substance,” derivative of māter “mother”; see also mother1

synonym study for matter

1. Matter, material, stuff, substance refer to that of which physical objects are composed (though all these terms are also used abstractly). Matter, as distinct from mind and spirit, is a broad word that applies to anything perceived, or known to be occupying space: solid matter; gaseous matter. Material usually means some definite kind, quality, or quantity of matter, especially as intended for use: woolen material; a house built of good materials. Stuff, a less technical word, with approximately the same meanings as material, is characterized by being on an informal level when it refers to physical objects ( Dynamite is queer stuff ), and on a literary or poetic one when it is used abstractly ( the stuff that dreams are made on ). Substance is the matter that composes a thing, thought of in relation to its essential properties: a sticky substance.

historical usage of matter

Matter has a spectacular history. The English noun ultimately comes from Latin māteria (also māteriēs ) “timber, wood for building, the woody part of a tree (as opposed to the root or bark).” Māteria is a derivative of māter “mother, source, origin of (material and abstract) things.”
In the first century b.c., the Roman poet and Epicurean philosopher Lucretius and his elder contemporary Cicero, statesman and man of letters, began using māteria in the sense “any substance that makes up a physical object,” also “the basic substance of the physical universe,” a translation of Greek hýlē “timber, firewood, wood for building.” Two hundred years earlier, Aristotle was using hýlē in the extended sense “the basic substance of the physical universe, matter,” prefiguring the Romans.
Māteria maintained its original, pre-Aristotelian sense “wood” in Portuguese, becoming madeira by regular phonetic change. The island of Madeira is so called because it is (or was) thickly wooded, and the fortified wine originating on that island is known as Madeira or Madeira wine (first occurring in English at the end of the 16th century). Some would claim that, more than wood, wine is the basic substance, or stuff, of life.


mat·ter·ful, adjectivemat·ter·less, adjectivenon·mat·ter, noun


madder, matter
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use matter in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for matter

/ (ˈmætə) /

verb (intr)
to be of consequence or importance
to form and discharge pus

Word Origin for matter

C13 (n), C16 (vb): from Latin māteria cause, substance, esp wood, or a substance that produces something else; related to 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

Scientific definitions for matter

[ mătər ]

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.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for matter


In physics, something that has mass and is distinct from energy. (See phases of matter.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Other Idioms and Phrases with matter


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