see also: Matter
  • (RP) IPA: /ˈmætə/
  • (America) IPA: /ˈmætɚ/, [ˈmæɾɚ]


  1. Substance, material.
    1. (physics) The basic structural component of the universe. Matter usually has mass and volume.
    2. (physics) Matter made up of normal particles, not antiparticles.
      Antonyms: antimatter
    3. A kind of substance.
      vegetable matter
    4. Printed material, especially in books or magazines.
      He always took some reading matter with him on the plane.
    5. (philosophy) Aristotelian: undeveloped potentiality subject to change and development; formlessness. Matter receives form, and becomes substance.
  2. A condition, subject or affair, especially one of concern.
    What's the matter?;   state matters
    • 1597, Francis Bacon, Of the Colours of Good and Evil
      if the matter should be tried by duel
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book 3”, in Paradise Lost. A Poem Written in Ten Books, London: Printed [by Samuel Simmons], and are to be sold by Peter Parker […] [a]nd by Robert Boulter […] [a]nd Matthias Walker, […], OCLC 228722708 ↗; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: The Text Exactly Reproduced from the First Edition of 1667: […], London: Basil Montagu Pickering […], 1873, OCLC 230729554 ↗:
      Son of God, Saviour of men! Thy name / Shall be the copious matter of my song.
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, […] (King James Version), imprinted at London: By Robert Barker, […], OCLC 964384981 ↗, Exodus xviii:22 ↗:
      Every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge.
    • 12 July 2012, Sam Adams, AV Club Ice Age: Continental Drift
      The matter of whether the world needs a fourth Ice Age movie pales beside the question of why there were three before it, but Continental Drift feels less like an extension of a theatrical franchise than an episode of a middling TV cartoon, lolling around on territory that’s already been settled.
  3. An approximate amount or extent.
    I stayed for a matter of months.
    • 1670, John Milton, The History of Britain, […] , London: Printed by J.M. for James Alleſtry, […] , OCLC 78038412 ↗:
      No small matter of British forces were commanded over sea the year before.
    • 1692, Roger L'Estrange, ''''
      Away he goes, […] a matter of seven miles.
    • I have thoughts to tarry a small matter.
  4. (obsolete) The essence; the pith; the embodiment.
    • 1611, Ben Jonson, Oberon, the Faery Prince
      He is the matter of virtue.
  5. (obsolete) Inducing cause or reason, especially of anything disagreeable or distressing.
    • 1644, John Milton, The Doctrine or Discipline of Divorce:
      And this is the matter why interpreters upon that passage in Hosea will not consent it to be a true story, that the prophet took a harlot to wife.
  6. (dated) Pus.
Synonyms Related terms Translations Translations Translations Translations Translations Translations Translations Verb

matter (matters, present participle mattering; past and past participle mattered)

  1. (intransitive) To be important. [from 16th c.]
    The only thing that matters to Jim is being rich.
    Sorry for pouring ketchup on your clean white shirt! - Oh, don't worry, it does not matter.
    • 1915, G[eorge] A. Birmingham [pseudonym; James Owen Hannay], chapter I, in Gossamer, New York, N.Y.: George H. Doran Company, OCLC 5661828 ↗:
      As a political system democracy seems to me extraordinarily foolish, […]. My servant is, so far as I am concerned, welcome to as many votes as he can get. […] I do not suppose that it matters much in reality whether laws are made by dukes or cornerboys, but I like, as far as possible, to associate with gentlemen in private life.
  2. (transitive, in negative constructions, now, England regional, Caribbean) To care about, to mind; to find important. [from 17th c.]
    • 1749, Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling. In Six Volumes, volume (please specify ), London: Printed by A[ndrew] Millar, […], OCLC 928184292 ↗:
      , Folio Society 1973, p.47:
      Besides, if it had been out of doors I had not mattered it so much; but with my own servant, in my own house, under my own roof […]
    • 1748, Samuel Richardson, Clarissa, Letter 56:
      He matter'd not that, he said; coy maids made the fondest wives […].
  3. (intransitive, medicine, archaic) To form pus or matter#Noun|matter, as an abscess; to maturate.
    • Each slight sore mattereth.
Synonyms Translations
Proper noun
  1. Surname

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