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 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 Canada’s Open Text Corp was also weighing a takeover bid for rival software firm Micro Focus International Plc, according to people familiar with the matter., "Open Text Corp. has announced a deal to acquire Carbonite Inc., a provider of data-protection services, for about $800 million in cash, according to a statement Monday.," 11 Nov. 2019 China’s biggest internet company is seeking to raise as much as $15 billion selling shares in the city and will have a listing hearing next week, Lulu Yilun Chen of Bloomberg News reported Friday, citing a person familiar with the matter. Tim Culpan And Nisha Gopalan | Bloomberg, Washington Post, "Alibaba Seizes a Brief Window of Opportunity," 8 Nov. 2019 Larson has defended his decision, saying that the prospect of impeaching a president is a serious matter and identifying the person who made the complaint is relevant to understanding the ongoing impeachment inquiry. oregonlive, "Portland radio host Lars Larson says naming Trump whistleblower has brought ‘death threats, curse words’ in reaction," 8 Nov. 2019 Its four paragraphs, published in The New York Times, were a matter of expediency: The paper had just confirmed long-standing rumors that the comedian had, on several occasions, masturbated in front of unwilling female colleagues. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, "The Death of the Apology," 7 Nov. 2019 None of the four witnesses scheduled for closed-door testimony Monday in the impeachment inquiry are expected to appear, sources familiar with the matter told NBC News. NBC News, "Monday's witnesses not expected to show up for testimony," 5 Nov. 2019 According to The Information, which cited two sources familiar with the matter, Facebook also considered purchasing Fitbit, though for roughly half the price that Google paid for the company. Sarah Min, CBS News, "Google is buying Fitbit for $2.1 billion," 1 Nov. 2019 While three candidates top the list, nothing is final, according to a person familiar with the matter who declined to be identified discussing a confidential issue. Jack Farchy,, "The Men Who Would Be King of Glencore Move Into the Spotlight," 29 Oct. 2019 Game theory is mainly used in economics, but its principles apply to a range of settings, including nuclear strategy, which Christie’s notes was a matter of dire concern during the 1950s. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "John Nash’s Nobel Prize Sells for $735,000," 29 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Among the issues that mattered to Cecconi were fluoride in the drinking water, a property tax freeze for seniors, council term limits, free tuition at junior colleges and a living wage. John Maccormack,, "Cecconi loved politics and San Antonio," 7 Nov. 2019 Linebacker Kyle Van Noy said that the only thing from Sunday that mattered to him was that the team didn’t play well and lost., "The Patriots are now on their bye week, which means that they’ll have extra time to focus on fixing the mistakes they made against the Ravens. They’ll also have an extra week before they have a chance to rinse away the loss, though.," 6 Nov. 2019 Whether this cut is specifically for a role or just for funsies has yet to be determined, but also doesn't really matter 'cause those curls are gone, y'all. Nicola Dall'asen, Allure, "Feast Your Eyes on Finn Wolfhard's Very Short New Haircut," 6 Nov. 2019 Join the conversation around issues that matter to women in the South on the Reckon Women group on Facebook. Anna Claire Vollers |, al, "Don’t want to get pregnant? Alabama’s here for you," 5 Nov. 2019 The players are the only thing that ever mattered to me. Mike Gramajo,, "Orangewood posts 300th win for coach Bill Gierke," 25 Oct. 2019 Made with Vitamin E, the gloss is perfect for looking good, and feeling good about taking a stand on an issue that matters to you. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Lipslut Announced “Impeach” Lip Gloss To Make a Statement In Favor of Trump’s Impeachment," 25 Oct. 2019 Think of this as an introductory biryani that allows you to focus on what really matters: the rice. Bon Appétit, "Not My Amu’s Chicken Thigh Biryani," 23 Oct. 2019 The boundaries set by one couple may seem outrageous to another, but that doesn't matter. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Is Kissing Cheating?," 22 Oct. 2019

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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Statistics for matter

Last Updated

14 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for matter

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

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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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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).


strength of mind

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