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

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

The Environmental Protection Agency has responsibility over such matters, but Trump turned it over to Scott Pruitt, a darling of fossil fuel billionaires and political donors Charles and (recently deceased) David Koch. Steve Chapman,, "Column: Trump’s EPA keeps trashing the planet," 30 Aug. 2019 Over a matter of three days last week, the president escalated the conflict with China, sounded conciliatory tones and found ways to ratchet up the tensions all over again. Alan Rappeport, New York Times, "How 4 Companies Struggle to Navigate Trump’s Trade Uncertainty," 29 Aug. 2019 Miller was already in custody for an unrelated matter. Emily Cutts, Twin Cities, "Suspect charged with killing Winona man, burning down his house," 29 Aug. 2019 The companies settled a civil case over the matter last year, but the criminal case could see Levandowski put behind bars for up to a decade. David Meyer, Fortune, "Little Room for Complacency: CEO Daily," 28 Aug. 2019 Other founders and investors echo this refrain—not just as a matter of principle, but as an imperative for the future growth and evolution of their own companies. Hilary George-parkin, Glamour, "The Unspoken Hurdle of Getting Funding for Plus-Size Fashion Brands," 28 Aug. 2019 Instant Pots are great for last-minute people and night owls who can use the pressure cook function after work to get a hot meal on the table in a matter of minutes. Amina Lake Abdelrahman, Good Housekeeping, "How to Choose Between an Instant Pot and a Crock-Pot," 27 Aug. 2019 Peter Hilton and Michael Kaye assume these assignments with astonishing energy, switching personas in a matter of seconds to enact cops, bad guys and, on occasion, female characters. Daily Pilot, "On Theater: 39 wild and crazy ‘Steps’ at Mesa Playhouse," 26 Aug. 2019 As a matter of public health, everyone who can get vaccinated safely should—so that's the vast majority of people. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "What Actually Counts as a Medical Exemption for Vaccines—and What's at Stake When They're Abused," 26 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Many of us are first-generation students and are not from much wealth, so these opportunities still matter a lot. Lena V. Groeger, ProPublica, "ProPublica Programs Are Helping Diverse Candidates Break Into Newsrooms. Here Are Their Inspiring Stories.," 21 Aug. 2019 What ultimately matters to Williams is not the number of depression or suicide subtypes, but how that knowledge helps patients. Emily Underwood, Science | AAAS, "Brain scans could help personalize treatment for people who are depressed or suicidal," 20 Aug. 2019 Hey, if Brady feels like a 22-year-old, that’s all that matters to the Patriots. Andrew Joseph, For The Win, "Tom Brady got a kick out of being listed as a 22-year-old on the Patriots roster," 19 Aug. 2019 Exchange rates, though, do matter, and in the context of the escalating tariff war, the recent moves between the dollar and the Chinese yuan (also called the renminbi) matter greatly. Wired, "Listen, Here’s Why the Value of China’s Yuan Really Matters," 7 Aug. 2019 One thing that matters most to the charities that rely on this giving is the predictability of this revenue. Alyssa A. Dirusso, The Conversation, "Budgeting for charity: A new way for the government to encourage giving," 30 July 2019 Money, however, has never mattered much in Mr. King’s re-elections. Trip Gabriel, New York Times, "J.D. Scholten Almost Beat Steve King in 2018. Now He’s Running Again.," 5 Aug. 2019 May not have mattered here, but Red Flag laws have proven to be effective in states that have them. Andrew Prokop, Vox, "From condemning “white terrorism” to condemning video games: Republican responses to El Paso shooting," 4 Aug. 2019 None of this mattered at all to Zheng, who left San Jose carrying a precious trophy and her career-high-matching No. Bruce Jenkins,, "Zheng Saisi, faring better than the event, wins San Jose tennis tournament," 4 Aug. 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

5 Sep 2019

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
: 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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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).


authorized for issue (as a bond)

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