1. the substance or substances of which any physical object consists or is composed: the matter of which the earth is made.
  2. physical or corporeal substance in general, whether solid, liquid, or gaseous, especially as distinguished from incorporeal substance, as spirit or mind, or from qualities, actions, and the like.
  3. something that occupies space.
  4. a particular kind of substance: coloring matter.
  5. a situation, state, affair, or business: a trivial matter.
  6. an amount or extent reckoned approximately: a matter of 10 miles.
  7. something of consequence: matter for serious thought.
  8. importance or significance: decisions of little matter.
  9. difficulty; trouble (usually preceded by the): There is something the matter.
  10. ground, reason, or cause: a matter for complaint.
  11. the material or substance of a discourse, book, etc., often as distinguished from its form.
  12. things put down in words, especially printed: reading matter.
  13. things sent by mail: postal matter.
  14. a substance discharged by a living body, especially pus.
  15. Philosophy.
    1. that which by integrative organization forms chemical substances and living things.
    2. Aristotelianism.that which relates to form as potentiality does to actuality.
  16. Law. statement or allegation.
  17. Printing.
    1. material for work; copy.
    2. type set up.
  18. Christian Science. the concept of substance shaped by the limitations of the human mind.

verb (used without object)

  1. to be of importance; signify: It matters little.
  2. Pathology. to suppurate.


  1. a matter of life and death, something of vital or crucial importance.
  2. as a matter of fact, in reality; actually; in fact: As a matter of fact, there is no substance to that rumor.
  3. for that matter, as far as that is concerned; as for that: For that matter, you are no better qualified to judge than I.Also for the matter of that.
  4. no matter,
    1. regardless or irrespective of: We’ll never finish on time, no matter how hard we work.
    2. it is unimportant; it makes no difference: No matter, this string will do as well as any other.


  1. that which makes up something, esp a physical object; material
  2. substance that occupies space and has mass, as distinguished from substance that is mental, spiritual, etc
  3. substance of a specified typevegetable matter; reading matter
  4. (sometimes foll by of or for) thing; affair; concern; questiona matter of taste; several matters to attend to; no laughing matter
  5. a quantity or amounta matter of a few pence
  6. the content of written or verbal material as distinct from its style or form
  7. (used with a negative) importance; consequence
  8. philosophy (in the writings of Aristotle and the Scholastics) that which is itself formless but can receive form and become substance
  9. philosophy (in the Cartesian tradition) one of two basic modes of existence, the other being mind : matter being extended in space as well as time
  10. printing
    1. type set up, either standing or for use
    2. copy to be set in type
  11. a secretion or discharge, such as pus
  12. law
    1. something to be proved
    2. statements or allegations to be considered by a court
  13. for that matter as regards that
  14. See grey matter
  15. no matter
    1. regardless of; irrespective ofno matter what the excuse, you must not be late
    2. (sentence substitute)it is unimportant
  16. the matter wrong; the troublethere’s nothing the matter

verb (intr)

  1. to be of consequence or importance
  2. to form and discharge pus

v.“to be of importance or consequence,” 1580s, from matter (n.). Related: Mattered; mattering. n.c.1200, materie, “subject of thought, speech, or expression,” from Anglo-French matere, Old French matere “subject, theme, topic; substance, content, material; character, education” (12c., Modern French matière), from Latin materia “substance from which something is made,” also “hard inner wood of a tree” (cf. Portuguese madeira “wood”), from mater “origin, source, mother” (see mother (n.1)). Or, on another theory, it represents *dmateria, from PIE root *dem-/*dom- (cf. Latin domus “house,” English timber). With sense development in Latin influenced by Greek hyle, of which it was the equivalent in philosophy. Meaning “physical substance generally, matter, material” is early 14c.; that of “substance of which some specific object is made or consists of” is attested from late 14c. That of “piece of business, affair, activity, situation, circumstance” is from late 14c. From mid-14c. as “subject of a literary work, content of what is written, main theme.” Also in Middle English as “cause, reasons, ground; essential character; field of investigation.” Matter of course “something expected” attested from 1739. For that matter attested from 1670s. What is the matter “what concerns (someone), the cause of the difficulty” is attested from mid-15c. To make no matter “be no difference to” also is mid-15c. n.

  1. Something that occupies space and can be perceived by one or more senses.
  2. A specific type of substance.
  3. Discharge or waste, such as pus or feces, from a living organism.

  1. 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.

In physics, something that has mass and is distinct from energy. (See phases of matter.) In addition to the idioms beginning with matter

  • matter of course, a
  • matter of fact, a
  • matter of life and death, a
  • matter of opinion, a
  • also see:

  • crux of the matter
  • for that matter
  • gray matter
  • mince matters
  • mind over matter
  • no joke (laughing matter)
  • no matter
  • the matter
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