ma·​trix | \ ˈmā-triks How to pronounce matrix (audio) \
plural matrices\ ˈmā-​trə-​ˌsēz How to pronounce matrices (audio) , ˈma-​ \ or matrixes\ ˈmā-​trik-​səz How to pronounce matrixes (audio) \

Definition of matrix

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
2a : 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
3a : 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)
4a : 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
5a : 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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web The highest-level Prestige trim comes equipped with matrix-design LEDs that have on and off animations for the front and rear lights, while the SQ5's Prestige trim gets standard OLED lights with three animated signature options. Connor Hoffman, Car and Driver, "2021 Audi Q5 Looks More Modern, Adds Power," 29 June 2020 Portland adopted its police discipline matrix as a condition of its settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice over police use of force against people with mental illness. oregonlive, "Key Oregon police reform bill may contain snag," 24 June 2020 Most of us do this unconsciously, but behind every bite is a matrix of economic, political, and cultural values. Matt Goulding, The Atlantic, "Our Weird Restaurant Future," 19 June 2020 The transformations occur when another matrix is applied to the vector. Quanta Magazine, "The ‘Useless’ Perspective That Transformed Mathematics," 9 June 2020 Even Le Corbusier, who dreamed of replacing the historic center of Paris with a matrix of high-rises, could not accomplish what cholera, yellow fever and typhus did. Michael J. Lewis, WSJ, "Pandemic as Urban Planner," 6 June 2020 In a subgroup analysis of the crash diet participants, 15 genes related to the extracellular matrix were identified, and 8 more associated with stress response. Daniel Engber, Scientific American, "Unexpected Clues Emerge About Why Diets Fail," 13 Jan. 2020 In the China study, the researchers created a contact matrix of 636 people in Wuhan and 557 people in Shanghai. Apoorva Mandavilli, New York Times, "New Studies Add to Evidence that Children May Transmit the Coronavirus," 5 May 2020 Critics have denounced an Iowa Health Department a matrix as arbitrarily devised and being used by the governor to rationalize her decision to not issue a stay-at-home order. Michael Kunzelman, Anchorage Daily News, "Politics mixes with science as states turn to virus models," 11 Apr. 2020

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

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First Known Use of matrix

1555, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for matrix

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

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Time Traveler for matrix

Time Traveler

The first known use of matrix was in 1555

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Last Updated

3 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Matrix.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for matrix


How to pronounce matrix (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of matrix

: something (such as a situation or a set of conditions) in which something else develops or forms
: something shaped like a pattern of lines and spaces
: a container that can be filled with a material (such as very hot metal) to give the material a new shape


ma·​trix | \ ˈmā-triks How to pronounce matrix (audio) \
plural matrices\ ˈmā-​trə-​ˌsēz also ˈma-​ \ or matrixes

Medical Definition of matrix

1a : 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
4a : 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

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More from Merriam-Webster on matrix

Spanish Central: Translation of matrix

Nglish: Translation of matrix for Spanish Speakers

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

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