non·​ma·​te·​ri·​al ˌnän-mə-ˈtir-ē-əl How to pronounce nonmaterial (audio)
: not material: such as
: not of a physical nature : mental, conceptual, or spiritual rather than physical
nonmaterial values
[William F.] Ogburn distinguished between material culture (factories, machines, munitions, clothing, and so on) and nonmaterial culture (values, attitudes, customs, institutions, etc.), and emphasized the different ways in which they change.Gerald R. Leslie and Sheila K. Korman
An ordinary will or last testament mainly concerns the disposition of your material possessions at death. An ethical will has to do with nonmaterial gifts: the values and life lessons that you wish to leave to others.Time
law : not having real importance or great consequences
a nonmaterial breach of contract

Examples of nonmaterial in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Put simply, superheated plasma was being tested as fuel, but the temperatures melted any sort of solid container, so the experiments used nonmaterial vessels formed from extremely powerful magnetic fields. Werner Herzog, The New Yorker, 21 Aug. 2023 The author excludes them all, asserting that belief in any kind of nonmaterial, ethereal world lacks empirical support. Denis Alexander, Washington Post, 17 Mar. 2023 So people escaped into the nonmaterial world. Keith Gessen, Vogue, 19 May 2022 In another time, and another year, showing appreciation for your pals could come in many nonmaterial forms (like quality time), but a tangible gift during a time of great stress—and separation, as folks social distance—can mean a great deal right now. Lori Keong, SELF, 14 Dec. 2020 The first part of the book is committed to a ground-clearing exercise, describing the various concepts of the nonmaterial soul that feature in many different religious belief systems. Denis Alexander, Washington Post, 17 Mar. 2023 The real challenge in terms of 2022 earnings is going to be addressing inflation in other costs, so nonmaterial costs. George Stahl, WSJ, 12 Feb. 2022 Robert Kagan also emphasized the role of nonmaterial motives in U.S. foreign policy. William A. Galston, WSJ, 20 Sep. 2022 An example of a nonmaterial breach is a landlord thinking their tenant is not cleaning enough, but nothing has been damaged. Randy Furst, Star Tribune, 11 July 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'nonmaterial.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1847, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of nonmaterial was in 1847

Dictionary Entries Near nonmaterial

Cite this Entry

“Nonmaterial.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2023.

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