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 If you are drawn to gray — or any color, for that matter — go ahead and embrace it. Washington Post, "After years of being the ‘it’ neutral, gray may be on its way out," 27 Apr. 2021 That time belonged to an era of movies and, for that matter, entertainment which was on its way out, even before Covid-19 shut down multiplexes and repertory theaters all over the world. Gene Seymour, CNN, "What we really learned at the Oscars," 26 Apr. 2021 This 2018 Sauvignon Blanc from Ritchie Vineyard, with about a third in new French oak, earned 98 points from prominent critic Jeb Dunnuck, an almost unheard-of feat for an SB—or any white for that matter. Sara L. Schneider, Robb Report, "13 Superb New Sauvignon Blancs to Drink This Spring," 26 Apr. 2021 Dimon has also become a prominent advocate of ESG, both as a way for investors to measure a company and, for that matter, for managers to run one. Andrew Stuttaford, National Review, "Adventures in ESG — JPMorgan’s Own Goal and Other Stories," 24 Apr. 2021 Or traversing the globe à la Ms. Moore, for that matter. Katharine K. Zarrella, WSJ, "Want a Chic Sweatpants Alternative? Try Retro Knit Sets," 24 Apr. 2021 Hall and her teammates didn’t get a chance to play the Cavaliers — or anyone else for that matter — in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to close and the spring season to be canceled. Pat Stoetzer,, "In a girls lacrosse program rich with superstars, Century’s Demma Hall ‘up there with all of them’," 23 Apr. 2021 Nobody need depend on the imperious style of, say, the nineties Martha Stewart—or on the know-how of their parents or high-school teachers, for that matter. Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker, "Did Home Economics Empower Women?," 19 Apr. 2021 For that matter, any NBA player would have a hard time replicating it. Dallas News, "Top 7 from 77: Ranking Luka Doncic’s best shots so far, from clutch 3-pointers to crazy trick shots in practice," 16 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The wins against the Lakers and Warriors are what really matter here. Doyle Rader, Forbes, "The Dallas Mavericks Are In Control Of Their Playoff Seeding Fate," 28 Apr. 2021 Concrete Cowboy makes a deeply moving case for why black fathers matter. Kyle Smith, National Review, "Black Fathers Matter," 27 Apr. 2021 For many who read the decision, this didn’t really matter at the time. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Blame Anthony Kennedy for the Supreme Court’s Mangled Ruling on Juvenile Life Without Parole," 23 Apr. 2021 The differences between methods may seem minute but when dealing with such a precious ingredient, the small details matter. Los Angeles Times, "How to prepare fresh fava beans for cooking," 22 Apr. 2021 Postponing football from the fall to February meant trading falling leaves for frozen ground and a little less fanfare, but that didn’t matter much., "Watch: ‘I just have to be grateful to even play.’ Inside Brockton football’s COVID-altered season," 22 Apr. 2021 Papering over a scandal, assuming that the public is not paying enough attention to care about a few donations which really matter only to the politicians who receive them—that’s what this town is all about. Susan B. Glasser, The New Yorker, "The Trump Administration Is Over, but the Trump Crisis Is Not," 22 Apr. 2021 Now, that shouldn’t really matter much: The U.S. border with Canada has now been closed to non-essential travel for a staggering 14 months, and most of Michigan’s border with Canada is formed by… the Great Lakes. David Z. Morris, Fortune, "What’s the matter with Michigan?," 20 Apr. 2021 Dungca’s inexperience with the prototype didn’t really matter. Washington Post, "4 mashup dishes worth trying in the D.C. area, including pulled-pork pupusas and Chinese burritos," 12 Apr. 2021

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

30 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Matter.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 May. 2021.

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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
: 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 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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Comments on matter

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