# matrix

## noun

ma·​trix
plural matrices ˈmā-trə-ˌsēz
ˈma-
or matrixes
1
: something within or from which something else originates, develops, or takes form
an atmosphere of understanding and friendliness that is the matrix of peace
2
a
: a mold from which a relief (see relief entry 1 sense 6) surface (such as a piece of type) is made
c
: an engraved or inscribed die (see die entry 2 sense 3) or stamp
d
: an electroformed impression of a phonograph record used for mass-producing duplicates of the original
3
a
: the natural material (such as soil or rock) in which something (such as a fossil or crystal) is embedded
b
: material in which something is enclosed or embedded (as for protection or study)
4
a
: the extracellular substance in which tissue cells (as of connective tissue) are embedded
b
: the thickened epithelium at the base of a fingernail or toenail from which new nail substance develops
5
a
: a rectangular array (see array entry 2 sense 5) of mathematical elements (such as the coefficients (see coefficient sense 1) of simultaneous (see simultaneous sense 2) linear equations) that can be combined to form sums and products with similar arrays having an appropriate number of rows and columns
b
: something resembling a mathematical matrix especially in rectangular arrangement of elements into rows and columns
c
: an array of circuit elements (such as diodes and transistors) for performing a specific function
6
: a main (see main entry 2 sense 5) clause that contains a subordinate (see subordinate entry 1) clause

## Did you know?

In ancient Rome, a matrix was a female animal kept for breeding, or a plant (sometimes called a "parent plant" or "mother plant") whose seeds were used for producing other plants. In English the word has taken on many related meanings. Mathematicians use it for a rectangular organization of numbers or symbols that can be used to make various calculations; geologists use it for the soil or rock in which a fossil is discovered, like a baby in the womb. And matrix was a good choice as the name of the reality in which all humans find themselves living in a famous series of science-fiction films.

## Examples of matrix in a Sentence

the complex social matrix in which people live their lives The wires all crossed each other and formed a matrix. a matrix used for making knives
Recent Examples on the Web The inspectors’ latest trek, in February, yielded the usual matrices of readings and measurements, couched in the clinical language of a U.N. nuclear watchdog report. Joby Warrick, Washington Post, 10 Apr. 2024 Flexible decision matrices, mentorship programs, assignments to high-risk projects and cross-functional training can empower employees to make informed decisions. Robin Elledge, Forbes, 27 Mar. 2024 Even 3-by-3 matrices haven’t been fully solved yet. Quanta Magazine, 7 Mar. 2024 What matrix of variables created a fire’s character? M. R. O’Connor, The New Yorker, 29 Feb. 2024 Worn side-flipped, smooth and immaculately neat, Hadid kept the ends softly flipped and paired it with a monochrome outfit—complete with matrix sunglasses, a black knitted sweater layered under a black pinstripe blazer, black leggings, black loafers and white varsity socks. Elle Turner, Glamour, 16 Mar. 2024 For 2-by-2 matrices, that means 23 or 8 multiplications. Quanta Magazine, 7 Mar. 2024 To make matters worse, amidst the nearly impenetrable matrix of vegetation swallowing up headstones, Palmer and a group of Boy Scouts that had come to clear the land encountered a group of deer hunters. USA TODAY, 14 Feb. 2024 Hunger is part of a larger matrix of suffering that also includes widespread disease, lack of adequate shelter, overcrowding and a lack of clean drinking water. A Special Correspondent, Los Angeles Times, 28 Dec. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'matrix.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

## Word History

Etymology

Latin, female animal used for breeding, parent plant, from matr-, mater

First Known Use

1555, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of matrix was in 1555

matrix

## Cite this Entry

“Matrix.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/matrix. Accessed 22 Apr. 2024.

## Kids Definition

matrix

noun
ma·​trix
plural matrices ˈmā-trə-ˌsēz
ˈma-
or matrixes
: something (as a mold) that gives form, foundation, or origin to something else enclosed in it

## Medical Definition

matrix

noun
ma·​trix
plural matrices
ˈmā-trə-ˌsēz also ˈma-
or matrixes
1
a
: the extracellular substance in which tissue cells (as of connective tissue) are embedded
mineralization of bone matrix
b
: the thickened epithelium at the base of a fingernail or toenail from which new nail substance develops

called also nail bed, nail matrix

2
: something (as a surrounding or pervading substance or element) within which something else originates or takes form or develops
3
: a mass by which something is enclosed or in which something is embedded
membrane-bound organelles suspended in the cytoplasmic matrix
chromatin fibers attach to the nuclear matrix
4
a
: a strip or band placed so as to serve as a retaining outer wall of a tooth in filling a cavity
b
: a metal or porcelain pattern in which an inlay is cast or fused
5
: the substrate on or within which a fungus grows

## More from Merriam-Webster on matrix

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