ma·​te·​ri·​al | \ mə-ˈtir-ē-əl How to pronounce material (audio) \

Definition of material

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a(1) : relating to, derived from, or consisting of matter especially : physical the material world
(2) : bodily material needs
b(1) : of or relating to matter rather than form material cause the material aspect of being
(2) : of or relating to the subject matter of reasoning especially : empirical material knowledge
2 : having real importance or great consequences facts material to the investigation
3a : being of a physical or worldly nature a grossly material form of love
b : relating to or concerned with physical rather than spiritual or intellectual things material progress provide material assistance



Definition of material (Entry 2 of 2)

1a(1) : the elements, constituents, or substances of which something is composed or can be made
(2) : matter that has qualities which give it individuality and by which it may be categorized sticky material explosive materials
b(1) : something (such as data) that may be worked into a more finished form material for a biography
(2) : something used for or made the object of study material for the next semester
(3) : a performer's repertoire a comedian's material
d : cloth
e : a person potentially suited to some pursuit varsity material leadership material
2a : apparatus necessary for doing or making something writing materials
b : matériel

Other Words from material


materially \ mə-​ˈtir-​ē-​ə-​lē How to pronounce material (audio) \ adverb
materialness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for material

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Adjective

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for material


material, physical, corporeal, phenomenal, sensible, objective mean of or belonging to actuality. material implies formation out of tangible matter; used in contrast with spiritual or ideal it may connote the mundane, crass, or grasping. material values physical applies to what is perceived directly by the senses and may contrast with mental, spiritual, or imaginary. the physical benefits of exercise corporeal implies having the tangible qualities of a body such as shape, size, or resistance to force. artists have portrayed angels as corporeal beings phenomenal applies to what is known or perceived through the senses rather than by intuition or rational deduction. scientists concerned with the phenomenal world sensible stresses the capability of readily or forcibly impressing the senses. the earth's rotation is not sensible to us objective may stress material or independent existence apart from a subject perceiving it. no objective evidence of damage

synonyms see in addition relevant

Examples of material in a Sentence

Adjective He is concerned only with his own material comforts. The researchers included all data that was material. Noun paper, plastic, or other materials She was never without reading material. The curtains required yards of expensive material.
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Experiences like these are material for both Beckham Sunderland and FC Cincinnati at a time in 2022 when the schedule is congested with matches and players are in short supply. Pat Brennan, The Enquirer, 26 Apr. 2022 Every element of a solid plan can be material to achieving financial goals. Stephen Chen, Forbes, 14 Mar. 2022 But Hall said without a hearing to determine whether those factual disputes are material to the outcome of Woods' case, the question of whether Woods received a fair trial will remain. Dale Ellis, Arkansas Online, 26 Feb. 2022 But what tipped the scale was an interview by prosecutors this month of a senior Energy Department official, who is considered an authority on what disclosures are material on grant forms, the people said. Ellen Nakashima, Anchorage Daily News, 20 Jan. 2022 Nor is producing professional players what has led the Kings to partner with the rink, offering in-person and virtual clinics as well as material assistance. Los Angeles Times, 20 Apr. 2022 Replacement handles are available directly through CRKT for buyers who like to fix their own tools, but the company also warranties its hatchets and axes for life against material defects. Mike Richard, Men's Health, 18 Apr. 2022 For all the claptrap Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have spouted about the filibuster facilitating bipartisan compromise, their opposition to eliminating it is most intelligible as a matter of material politics. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, 18 Apr. 2022 Doing so will keep the material soft and stretchy and will prevent shrinkage, according to the brand. Carly Kulzer,, 15 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The Trabant's body was made from a material called Duroplast that resembled plastic but was made from a mixture of wood pulp, cotton fiber and resin. Peter Valdes-dapena, CNN, 17 May 2022 Made from a plushy sponge material, this blending sponge is quite soft when damp and doesn't feel rough on the skin. Madison Yauger,, 16 May 2022 Copper theft in platinum mines could disrupt the supply of a material that is in increasingly high demand around the world, especially for its applications in the electric car industry. Tristan Bove, Fortune, 14 May 2022 An officer attempted to break her driver's window while the vehicle was still, but police said a tint material prevented it from fully shattering. Sarah Nelson, The Indianapolis Star, 13 May 2022 Try a high-neck, long-sleeve with a sculptural boot for work; off-the-shoulder floral maxis are summer wedding guest material. Halie Lesavage, Harper's BAZAAR, 13 May 2022 The earcups use a softer synthetic leather material, and the slider used to adjust the headband's fit now has a smoother, notchless action. Jeff Dunn, Ars Technica, 12 May 2022 This unique and vintage-feeling 3.5 oz block is almost like soap, but is made from 100% potassium alum, a material that provides natural antiseptic and astringent properties that stop bleeding, close pores, and tone skin. The Salt Lake Tribune, 12 May 2022 And while his company will cut down 25 percent of the area’s forest, most of the trees will be turned into biochar, a charcoal-like material that improves soil health. New York Times, 12 May 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'material.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of material


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)


1556, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

History and Etymology for material

Adjective and Noun

Middle English materiel, from Middle French & Late Latin; Middle French, from Late Latin materialis, from Latin materia matter — more at matter

Learn More About material

Time Traveler for material

Time Traveler

The first known use of material was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near material



material cause

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for material

Last Updated

6 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Material.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for material


ma·​te·​ri·​al | \ mə-ˈtir-ē-əl How to pronounce material (audio) \

Kids Definition of material

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : of, relating to, or made of matter : physical the material world
2 : of or relating to a person's bodily needs or wants Money buys material comforts.
3 : having real importance Those facts aren't material to the case.

Other Words from material

materially adverb



Kids Definition of material (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the elements, substance, or parts of which something is made or can be made We purchased bricks and other building material.
2 : equipment needed for doing something writing materials


ma·​te·​ri·​al | \ mə-ˈtir-ē-əl How to pronounce material (audio) \

Legal Definition of material

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : of, relating to, or consisting of physical matter
2 : being of real importance or consequence
3 : being an essential component the material terms of the contract
4 : being relevant to a subject under consideration specifically : being such as would affect or be taken into consideration by a reasonable person in acting or making a decision — see also insider trading

Other Words from material

materiality \ mə-​ˌtir-​ē-​ˈa-​lə-​tē How to pronounce material (audio) \ noun
materially adverb



Legal Definition of material (Entry 2 of 2)

: something used for or made the object of consideration or study specifically : evidence — see also brady material

More from Merriam-Webster on material

Nglish: Translation of material for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of material for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about material


Test Your Vocabulary

Which Word Does Not Belong?

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!