mat·​ter | \ ˈma-tər How to pronounce matter (audio) \

Definition of matter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a subject under consideration Several other matters will come before the committee.
b : a subject of disagreement or litigation The matter in dispute is basically trivial.
c matters plural : the events or circumstances of a particular situation planned to discuss matters with her husband soon
d : the subject or substance of a discourse or writing A graceful style was not enough to hide a paucity of matter.
e : something of an indicated kind or having to do with an indicated field or situation this is a serious matter as a matter of policy matters of faith
f : something to be proved in law
g obsolete : sensible or serious material as distinguished from nonsense or drollery
h(1) obsolete : reason, cause
(2) : a source especially of feeling or emotion
i : problem, difficulty What's the matter?
2a : the substance of which a physical object is composed
b : material substance that occupies space, has mass, and is composed predominantly of atoms consisting of protons, neutrons, and electrons, that constitutes the observable universe, and that is interconvertible with energy
c : a material substance of a particular kind or for a particular purpose vegetable matter
d(1) : material (such as feces or urine) discharged from the living body
(2) : material discharged by suppuration : pus
3a : the indeterminate subject of reality especially : the element in the universe that undergoes formation and alteration
b : the formless substratum of all things which exists only potentially and upon which form acts to produce realities
4 : a more or less definite amount or quantity cooks in a matter of minutes
5 : something written or printed matter suitable for photocomposition
6 : mail entry 1 first-class matter
7 Christian Science : the illusion that the objects perceived by the physical senses have the reality of substance
as a matter of fact
: in fact : actually
for that matter
: so far as that is concerned
no matter
: without regard to : irrespective of points in the same direction no matter how it is tilted
no matter what
: regardless of the costs, consequences, or results wants to win, no matter what
the matter
: wrong nothing's the matter with me


mattered; mattering; matters

Definition of matter (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to form or discharge pus : suppurate mattering wound
2 : to be of importance : signify

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Synonyms for matter

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of matter in a Sentence

Noun He has a few personal matters to deal with. Disagreement is one thing, but accusations of lying are a different matter altogether! Can matter and energy be changed into each other? Verb It may not matter to you, but it matters a lot to me! “Why are you being so quiet?” “Does it matter?” “Of course it matters!”
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun There will be more details forthcoming from Mr. Catlin’s attorneys office on this matter. Carol Robinson |, al, "Trussville man charged in Hoover house-flipping scam; woman conned out of thousands, police say," 18 Feb. 2020 The truth of the matter is, people are always revealing themselves to you. Rosemary Donahue, Allure, "Astrologer Jessica Lanyadoo Wrote a Book That Will Fix Your Love Life," 14 Feb. 2020 Unfortunately, the tone of public debate on this matter was set early, and unhelpfully, on just one subject: gun control. Jack Butler, National Review, "Two Years Later, Don’t Misplace Blame for Parkland," 14 Feb. 2020 Matt Mareno, chairman of the Waukesha County Democratic Party, said the organization consulted with Fox on the matter. Evan Frank, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Oconomowoc alderman lost appeal to be on the spring mayoral ballot. Now he'll run as a write-in candidate.," 14 Feb. 2020 Meituan Dianping referred Quartz to Wei’s response on the matter. Jane Li, Quartz at Work, "Live-streams and “work diaries”: How work from home works in coronavirus-hit China," 13 Feb. 2020 The question of what to do about these voters is again a major strategic debate among Democrats, and there are different points of view on the matter. Jim Shultz, The New York Review of Books, "A Liberal in Trump Land," 13 Feb. 2020 Those looking to unseat the first black woman to hold the county's highest law enforcement position, have blasted her handling of the matter as haphazard and indecisive. Don Babwin, Anchorage Daily News, "Actor Jussie Smollett faces 6 new charges in Chicago," 11 Feb. 2020 Their staggering casualty rate, even as many in their leadership ranks prospered from corruption, has made recruiting and training more of a matter of triage than a consistent, thorough program. Mujib Mashal, New York Times, "They Fight Suicide Bombers. But Can Afghan Police Fight Crime?," 8 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In the weeks before the interview, Barr had also privately told the president to stop speaking publicly on Justice Department matters, a person familiar with their discussions said. Anchorage Daily News, "Barr has told those close to Trump that he may quit if president keeps tweeting about investigations," 19 Feb. 2020 And remarkably, the two fields really came together, where international affairs started to be a domain in which technology really mattered. CBS News, "Transcript: Tech expert Ben Buchanan talks with Michael Morell on "Intelligence Matters"," 19 Feb. 2020 President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Tuesday morning, to criticize the judge overseeing the Roger Stone case, despite Attorney General William Barr's plea that the president refrain from tweeting about ongoing Justice Department matters. John Parkinson, ABC News, "Trump maintains online criticism of Roger Stone case, despite AG Barr's plea to stop," 18 Feb. 2020 Colorado should have its way with Los Angeles and the neutral site location shouldn’t matter much for this game. Geoff Clark, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "Los Angeles Kings at Colorado Avalanche odds, picks and best bets," 15 Feb. 2020 Why this matters Our study raises important questions for the anti-detention movement – a social movement seeking to end immigration detention in the United States. Emily Ryo, The Conversation, "Hundreds of county jails detained immigrants for ICE," 11 Feb. 2020 But debate rages as to which matters more in the ocean. Quanta Magazine, "The Grand Unified Theory of Rogue Waves," 5 Feb. 2020 Here’s why all of this matters: Once that solid ice begins to drain, many landscape shifts can take place virtually overnight, in just days, weeks, or months. Craig Welch, National Geographic, "The Arctic’s thawing ground is releasing a shocking amount of dangerous gases," 5 Feb. 2020 On February 3, the results of the Iowa caucuses may indicate just how much science matters at the ballot box this election year. Gloria Dickie, Scientific American, "Will Elizabeth Warren’s Stance against “Junk Science” Matter to Voters?," 29 Jan. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'matter.' 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 matter


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1530, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for matter

Noun and Verb

Middle English matere, from Anglo-French, from Latin materia matter, physical substance, from mater

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Time Traveler for matter

Time Traveler

The first known use of matter was in the 13th century

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Statistics for matter

Last Updated

21 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Matter.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for matter


How to pronounce matter (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of matter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: something that is being done, talked about, or thought about
: the situation or subject that is being discussed or dealt with
physics : the thing that forms physical objects and occupies space



English Language Learners Definition of matter (Entry 2 of 2)

: to be important


mat·​ter | \ ˈma-tər How to pronounce matter (audio) \

Kids Definition of matter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : something to be dealt with or considered We have a serious matter to discuss.
2 : problem sense 2, difficulty What's the matter?
3 : the substance things are made of : something that takes up space and has weight
4 : material substance of a certain kind or function coloring matter plant matter
5 : pus
6 : a small quantity or amount The difference is a matter of ten cents.
as a matter of fact
: actually Hello. As a matter of fact I just called you.
no matter
: without regard to no matter how much she swept, it never looked clean.— Pam Muñoz Ryan, Esperanza Rising
no matter what
: regardless of the costs or consequences


mattered; mattering

Kids Definition of matter (Entry 2 of 2)

: to be of importance Money does not matter to me.


mat·​ter | \ ˈmat-ər How to pronounce matter (audio) \

Medical Definition of matter

1 : material (as feces or urine) discharged or for discharge from the living body an obstruction interfering with passage of matter from the intestine
2 : material discharged by suppuration : pus

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Legal Definition of matter

1 : a subject of consideration, disagreement, or litigation: as
a : a legal case, dispute, or issue a matter within the court's jurisdiction often used in titles of legal proceedingsmatter of Doe — see also in re
b : one or more facts, claims, or rights examined, disputed, asserted, proven, or determined by legal process
matter in controversy
1 : matter sense 1

called also matter in dispute

2 : the monetary amount involved in a case
matter in issue
: a matter that is in dispute as part or all of a legal issue
matter of fact
: a matter primarily involving proof or evidence rather than a question of law
matter of form
: a matter concerning form or details often of a relatively inessential nature rather than substance a petition invalid because of a matter of form
matter of law
: a matter involving or consisting of the application of law entitled to judgment as a matter of lawNational Law Journal
matter of record
: a matter (as a fact) entered on the record of a court or other official body the security interest was a matter of record
matter of substance
: a matter concerning the merits of a case rather than form or relatively inessential details
2 : written, printed, or postal material obscene matter

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