mat·​ter | \ˈma-tər \

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 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

content, motif, motive, question, subject, theme, topic

Synonyms: Verb

count, import, mean, signify, weigh

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Examples of matter in a Sentence


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?


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

Setting Up the Action, Adjusting the Bridge Ideal action is a subjective matter. Henry Robertson, Popular Mechanics, "How to Set Up a Guitar And Make It Your Own," 7 Dec. 2018 The matter of plastic debris in the environment, in particular the ocean, is now on the agenda. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Prince Charles Shares His Big Worry for His Grandchildren, Prince George, Prince Louis, and Princess Charlotte," 7 Nov. 2018 Coming up with these scents wasn't a matter of partnering with a company and slapping her name on the label. Candace Braun Davison, House Beautiful, "You're Going To Be Obsessed With Amber Interiors' New Candles," 11 Sep. 2018 Apple suppliers have also recently resumed making the iPhone X, the 2017 model that Apple had stopped selling at its own stores, people familiar with the matter said. Takashi Mochizuki, WSJ, "Not so Big in Japan: Apple Cuts Price of iPhone XR to Boost Sales," 22 Nov. 2018 The new Spectacles, internally codenamed Newport, will feature an all-new design with a more premium frame made of aluminum and cameras capable of producing augmented reality effects in videos, according to people familiar with the matter. Casey Newton, The Verge, "A majority of Americans don’t think social networks are good for the world," 21 Nov. 2018 Wearing a matching, icy-azure winged liner, Brown proceeded to carefully paint short strokes of lacquer onto the Late Show host's fingers—while discussing important matters, of course, such as activism, YouTube beauty tutorials, the Spice Girls.... Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "Watch Millie Bobby Brown Paint Stephen Colbert's Nails (Really)," 20 Nov. 2018 There is an 1873 precedent that the 14th Amendment only applies to former slaves, but that case did not deal with the matter of citizenship. Christianna Silva, Teen Vogue, "Trump's Plan to Revoke Birthright Citizenship Is Another Attack on Immigrants," 30 Oct. 2018 The Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General has referred one of its probes into the conduct of Secretary Ryan Zinke to the Justice Department for further investigation, according to two individuals familiar with the matter. Josh Dawsey, The Seattle Times, "Zinke’s own agency watchdog just referred him to the Justice Department," 30 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

For the potential donor, effective giving in response to disastersrequires looking at potential charities with an eye for where your money matters. Kelsey Piper, Vox, "Why disaster relief is so hard," 23 Nov. 2018 Solid and steady in its habits, the clan ensured that the family always matters more than the individual. Claire Tomalin, WSJ, "Five Best: Claire Tomalin on the Best Books About Family Trouble," 22 Nov. 2018 Each year, our readers tell us what matters—and once again, these airports got high marks for a variety of excellent food and beverage choices, retail therapy, fast (and free) Wi-Fi, fitness options, ease of connection, and more. Barbara Peterson, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Best Airports in the U.S.: 2018 Readers' Choice Awards," 9 Oct. 2018 The matchup has sparked a debate about how much — and even whether — experience matters in politics: Glassman, 59, has had a 30-year career in public life while Hayes is making her first run for elective office. Daniela Altimari,, "From Public Housing To Running For Congress: African-American Women Find Their Voices In Jahana Hayes," 13 July 2018 Under some electoral systems this would not matter very much. The Economist, "America’s electoral system gives the Republicans advantages over Democrats," 12 July 2018 Then Saturday happened and the point standings no longer mattered for Jones. John Smallwood,, "NASCAR's Monster Energy regular season enters homestretch," 11 July 2018 Stocks tend to be held by wealthier Americans, and job prospects appear to matter more to lower income consumers when gauging sentiment; the jobless rate is at the lowest level since 1969, potentially explaining the stock market-sentiment disparity. Sharon Nunn, WSJ, "U.S. Consumer Confidence Surged in October to 18-Year High," 30 Oct. 2018 The question is whether Trump’s presence in the tiny central Wisconsin city of Mosinee (population 4,000) will provide enough of a boost to energize Republican voters to matter for Walker and Vukmir less than two weeks before the election. Scott Bauer, The Seattle Times, "Trump turns focus to Wisconsin’s races for Senate, governor," 23 Oct. 2018

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


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


see matter entry 1

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Statistics for matter

Last Updated

12 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for matter

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

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More Definitions for matter



English Language Learners Definition of matter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: something that is being done, talked about, or thought about

matters : 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 \

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 \

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 proceedings matter 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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More from Merriam-Webster on matter

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with matter

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for matter

Spanish Central: Translation of matter

Nglish: Translation of matter for Spanish Speakers

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

Comments on matter

What made you want to look up matter? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


living or existing for a long time

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