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 With the choice between the two premier open-wheel series in the world, INDYCAR and Formula 1, McLaughlin’s first love was partly a matter of circumstance. Nathan Brown, The Indianapolis Star, "How three-time Supercars champ Scott McLaughlin became Team Penske's first rookie since 1999," 23 Oct. 2020 Their reticence wasn’t a matter of decorum—shame has no purchase on senators who refused to consider Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nomination during his last year in office but took up Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Barrett. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, "The Ultimate “Bullshit Job”," 22 Oct. 2020 That said, if the individuals surveyed were broadly supportive of pro-worker policies, partisanship was another matter entirely. J.c. Pan, The New Republic, "The Emerging, Tenuous “Essential Worker” Vote," 22 Oct. 2020 The fact that the solar outburst happened between the penultimate and final crewed moon missions was simply a matter of chance. Rebecca Boyle, Scientific American, "Can a Moon Base be Safe for Astronauts?," 22 Oct. 2020 Then there is the matter of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Raghavan Mayur, Fortune, "Why the 2020 election hinges on the final presidential debate," 21 Oct. 2020 Kingsolver’s poems are like that, though their clarity is less a matter of sudden revelation than the slowly ripening insight of age. Danny Heitman, The Christian Science Monitor, "Barbara Kingsolver’s poems gently mock how-to books," 20 Oct. 2020 Victory for a nominee in these confirmation hearings, like for a boxer in a boxing match, is mostly a matter of deflecting and evading hits from the opposition. Cameron Hilditch, National Review, "Why the Senators Don’t Hate Each Other," 20 Oct. 2020 How the Bidens might entertain in the White House is also a matter of public interest. Washington Post, "Diner-in-chief: How the Bidens might eat and entertain in and out of the White House," 20 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Yet the election may matter less than leaders in the region expect. The Economist, "Leaders in the Middle East are watching the polls in America," 24 Oct. 2020 The Huskers put up 184 yards in that blowout loss to OSU, which didn’t matter much because Martinez and the passing game added nothing. Nathan Baird, cleveland, "Ohio State football defense needs a strong opening challenge from Nebraska: Buckeye Take," 22 Oct. 2020 And just wait until the national media hears that Oregon’s governor opened the gates for the state’s high-profile universities to get going while acting as if Portland State and University of Portland just didn’t matter. John Canzano, oregonlive, "Canzano: Oregon Gov. Kate Brown is officially adrift in college sports sea," 22 Oct. 2020 Information technology’s other applications matter for our national defense as well. Mike Watson, National Review, "Tech and Its (Other) Enemies," 22 Oct. 2020 How the companies handle their operating systems is also at issue in both cases—but the differences matter. Steven Levy, Wired, "The Anticlimax of the Google Antitrust Suit," 20 Oct. 2020 There’s no unanimous choice, but that shouldn’t matter. Mark Gonzales,, "Column: The Chicago White Sox — with an outrageously talented core — must find their perfect manager. No decision in the Jerry Reinsdorf era is more important.," 18 Oct. 2020 Doctors of all races can do an effective job treating Black patients, and while the survey found that 24 percent of Black adults would prefer to see a Black doctor, most said their doctor’s race did not matter. Michael A. Fletcher, National Geographic, "Black Americans see a health-care system infected by racism, new poll shows," 16 Oct. 2020 The survey found that 44 percent of respondents said the debates would not matter at all. Michael M. Grynbaum, New York Times, "How the Biden-Trump Debate Will Play on TV (Don’t Expect Fact-Checks)," 28 Sep. 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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Dictionary Entries near matter

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Statistics for matter

Last Updated

26 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Matter.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Oct. 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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