What does matter mean?

Definitions for matter
ˈmæt ərmat·ter

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word matter.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. matter, affair, thingnoun

    a vaguely specified concern

    "several matters to attend to"; "it is none of your affair"; "things are going well"

  2. topic, subject, issue, matternoun

    some situation or event that is thought about

    "he kept drifting off the topic"; "he had been thinking about the subject for several years"; "it is a matter for the police"

  3. matternoun

    that which has mass and occupies space

    "physicists study both the nature of matter and the forces which govern it"

  4. matternoun

    a problem

    "is anything the matter?"

  5. matternoun

    (used with negation) having consequence

    "they were friends and it was no matter who won the games"

  6. matterverb

    written works (especially in books or magazines)

    "he always took some reading matter with him on the plane"

  7. count, matter, weighverb

    have weight; have import, carry weight

    "It does not matter much"


  1. matternoun

    The basic structural component of the universe. Matter usually has mass and volume.

  2. matternoun

    Matter made up of normal particles, not antiparticles. (Non-antimatter matter).

  3. matternoun

    A kind of substance.

    vegetable matter

  4. matternoun

    A condition, subject or affair, especially one of concern.

  5. matternoun

    An approximate amount or extent.

    a matter of months; a matter of knowledge.

  6. matternoun

    Written material (especially in books or magazines)

    He always took some reading matter with him on the plane

  7. matternoun

    Aristotelian: undeveloped potentiality subject to change and development; formlessness. Matter receives form, and becomes substance.

  8. matterverb

    To be important.

  9. matterverb

    To care about, to mind; to find important.

  10. Etymology: From mater, from materie, from materie, from materia (matter, stuff, material), derivative of Latin mater "mother". Displaced native andweorc (from andweorc), intinga.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Matternoun

    Etymology: matiere, French; materia, Latin.

    If then the soul another soul do make,
    Because her pow’r is kept within a bound,
    She must some former stuff or matter take,
    But in the soul there is no matter found. Davies.

    It seems probable to me, that God in the beginning formed matter in solid, massy, hard, impenetrable, moveable particles, of such sizes and figures, and with such other properties, and in such proportion to space, as most conduced to the end for which he formed them; and that those primitive particles being solids are incomparably harder than any porous bodies compounded of them, even so very hard as never to wear or break in pieces, no ordinary power being able to divide what God himself made one in the first creation. Newt.

    Some have dimensions of length, breadth, and depth, and have also a power of resistance, or exclude every thing of the same kind from being in the same place: this is the proper character of matter or body. Isaac Watts, Logick.

    The upper regions of the air perceive the collection of the matter of tempests before the air here below. Francis Bacon.

    The subject or matter of laws in general is thus far forth constant, which matter is that for the ordering whereof laws were instituted. Richard Hooker, b. i.

    I have words to speak in thy ear will make thee dumb; yet are they much too light for the matter. William Shakespeare, Hamlet.

    Son of God, Saviour of men! Thy name
    Shall be the copious matter of my song. John Milton, Par. Lost.

    It is matter of the greatest astonishment to observe the common boldness of men. Decay of Piety.

    I shall turn
    Full fraught with joyful tiding of these works,
    New matter of his praise, and of our songs. Dryden.

    He grants the deluge to have come so very near the matter, that but very few escaped. John Tillotson.

    This is so certain in true philosophy, that it is matter of astonishment to me how it came to be doubted. George Cheyne.

    Be thou the copious matter of my song. Phillips.

    To help the matter, the alchemists call in many vanities out of astrology. Francis Bacon, Nat. Hist.

    Matters succeeded so well with him, that every-body was in admiration to see how mighty rich he was grown. Roger L'Estrange.

    Never was any thing gotten by sensuality and sloth in matter of profit or reputation. Roger L'Estrange, Fables.

    A fawn was reasoning the matter with a stag, why he should run away from the dogs. Roger L'Estrange, Fables.

    Some young female seems to have carried matters so far, that she is ripe for asking advice. Spectator.

    If chance herself should vary,
    Observe how matters would miscarry. Matthew Prior.

    Where art thou? What’s the matter with thee? William Shakespeare.

    What’s the matter, you dissentious rogues,
    That rubbing the poor itch of your opinion,
    Make yourselves scabs. William Shakespeare, Coriolanus.

    Slender, I broke your head; what matter have you against me?
    —— Marry, Sir, I have matter in my head against you. William Shakespeare.

    If the craftsmen have a matter against any man, the law is open; let them implead one another. Acts xix. 38.

    In armies, if the matter should be tried by duel between two champions, the victory should go on the one side; and yet if tried by the gross, it would go on the other. Francis Bacon.

    If I had had time to have made new liveries, I would have bestowed the thousand I borrowed of you: but it is no matter, this poor shew doth better. William Shakespeare, Henry IV.

    And please yourselves this day;
    No matter from what hands you have the play. Dryden.

    A prophet some, and some a poet cry,
    No matter which, so neither of them lye,
    From steepy Othrys’ top to Pilus drove
    His herd. Dryden.

    Pleas’d or displeas’d, no matter now ’tis past;
    The first who dares be angry breaths his last. George Granville.

    The king of Armenia had in his company three of the most famous men for matters of arms. Philip Sidney, b. ii.

    Plato reprehended a young man for entering into a dissolute house; the young man said, Why for so small a matter? Plato replied, But custom is no small matter. Francis Bacon.

    Many times the things deduced to judgment may be meum and tuum, when the reason and consequence thereof may trench to point of estate. I call matter of estate not only the parts of sovereignty, but whatsoever introduceth any great alteration, or dangerous precedent. Francis Bacon, Essays.

    It is a maxim in state, that all countries of new acquest, till they be settled, are rather matters of burden than of strength. Francis Bacon, War with Spain.

    Upon the whole matter, it is absurd to think that conscience can be kept in order without frequent examination. South.

    Away he goes to the market-town, a matter of seven miles off, to enquire if any had seen his ass. Roger L'Estrange.

    I have thoughts to tarry a small matter in town, to learn somewhat of your lingo. William Congreve, Way of the World.

    In an inflamed tubercle in the great angle of the left eye, the matter being suppurated I opened it. Richard Wiseman, Surgery.

    In their superiors it quencheth jealousy, and layeth their competitors asleep; so that upon the matter, in a great wit deformity is an advantage to rising. Francis Bacon, Essays.

    Upon the matter, in these prayers I do the same thing I did before, save only that what before I spake without book I now read. Robert Sanderson.

    The elder, having consumed his whole fortune, when forced to leave his title to his younger brother, left upon the matter nothing to support it. Edward Hyde.

    Waller, with Sir William Balfour, exceeded in horse, but were, upon the matter, equal in foot. Edward Hyde, b. viii.

    If on one side there are fair proofs, and no pretence of proof on the other, and that the difficulties are most pressing on that side which is destitute of proof, I desire to know, whether this be not upon the matter as satisfactory to a wise man as a demonstration. John Tillotson, Sermons.

  2. To Matterverb

    To regard; not to neglect: as, I matter not that calumny.

    Etymology: from the noun.

  3. To Matterverb

    Etymology: from the noun.

    It matters not, so they deny it all;
    And can but carry the lye constantly. Ben Jonson, Catal.

    It matters not how they were called, so we know who they are. John Locke.

    If Petrarch’s muse did Laura’s wit rehearse;
    And Cowley flatter’d dear Orinda’s verse;
    She hopes from you —— Pox take her hopes and fears,
    I plead her sex’s claim: what matters hers? Matthew Prior.

    Deadly wounds inward bleed, each slight sore mattereth. Philip Sidney, b. i.

    The herpes beneath mattered, and were dried up with common epuloticks. Richard Wiseman, Surgery.


  1. Matter

    In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touched are ultimately composed of atoms, which are made up of interacting subatomic particles, and in everyday as well as scientific usage, "matter" generally includes atoms and anything made up of them, and any particles (or combination of particles) that act as if they have both rest mass and volume. However it does not include massless particles such as photons, or other energy phenomena or waves such as light or sound. Matter exists in various states (also known as phases). These include classical everyday phases such as solid, liquid, and gas – for example water exists as ice, liquid water, and gaseous steam – but other states are possible, including plasma, Bose–Einstein condensates, fermionic condensates, and quark–gluon plasma.Usually atoms can be imagined as a nucleus of protons and neutrons, and a surrounding "cloud" of orbiting electrons which "take up space". However this is only somewhat correct, because subatomic particles and their properties are governed by their quantum nature, which means they do not act as everyday objects appear to act – they can act like waves as well as particles and they do not have well-defined sizes or positions. In the Standard Model of particle physics, matter is not a fundamental concept because the elementary constituents of atoms are quantum entities which do not have an inherent "size" or "volume" in any everyday sense of the word. Due to the exclusion principle and other fundamental interactions, some "point particles" known as fermions (quarks, leptons), and many composites and atoms, are effectively forced to keep a distance from other particles under everyday conditions; this creates the property of matter which appears to us as matter taking up space. For much of the history of the natural sciences people have contemplated the exact nature of matter. The idea that matter was built of discrete building blocks, the so-called particulate theory of matter, independently appeared in ancient Greece and ancient India among Buddhists, Hindus and Jains in 1st-millennium BC. Ancient philosophers who proposed the particulate theory of matter include Kanada (c. 6th–century BC or after), Leucippus (~490 BC) and Democritus (~470–380 BC).


  1. matter

    Matter can be defined as anything that has mass and takes up space. It refers to the physical substance or material that exists in the universe and includes everything from solid objects to gases, liquids, and even energy. Matter is made up of particles such as atoms and molecules, which interact and combine through various physical and chemical processes. The study of matter is an essential component of physics and chemistry, as it helps understand the fundamental properties and behavior of substances in the natural world.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Matternoun

    that of which anything is composed; constituent substance; material; the material or substantial part of anything; the constituent elements of conception; that into which a notion may be analyzed; the essence; the pith; the embodiment

  2. Matternoun

    that of which the sensible universe and all existent bodies are composed; anything which has extension, occupies space, or is perceptible by the senses; body; substance

  3. Matternoun

    that with regard to, or about which, anything takes place or is done; the thing aimed at, treated of, or treated; subject of action, discussion, consideration, feeling, complaint, legal action, or the like; theme

  4. Matternoun

    that which one has to treat, or with which one has to do; concern; affair; business

  5. Matternoun

    affair worthy of account; thing of consequence; importance; significance; moment; -- chiefly in the phrases what matter ? no matter, and the like

  6. Matternoun

    inducing cause or occasion, especially of anything disagreeable or distressing; difficulty; trouble

  7. Matternoun

    amount; quantity; portion; space; -- often indefinite

  8. Matternoun

    substance excreted from living animal bodies; that which is thrown out or discharged in a tumor, boil, or abscess; pus; purulent substance

  9. Matternoun

    that which is permanent, or is supposed to be given, and in or upon which changes are effected by psychological or physical processes and relations; -- opposed to form

  10. Matternoun

    written manuscript, or anything to be set in type; copy; also, type set up and ready to be used, or which has been used, in printing

  11. Matterverb

    to be of importance; to import; to signify

  12. Matterverb

    to form pus or matter, as an abscess; to maturate

  13. Matterverb

    to regard as important; to take account of; to care for

  14. Etymology: [OE. matere, F. matire, fr. L. materia; perh. akin to L. mater mother. Cf. Mother, Madeira, Material.]


  1. Matter

    Matter is a poorly-defined term in science. The term has often been used in reference to a substance that has rest mass. Matter is also used loosely as a general term for the substance that makes up all observable physical objects. All objects we see with the naked eye are composed of atoms. This atomic matter is in turn made up of interacting subatomic particles—usually a nucleus of protons and neutrons, and a cloud of orbiting electrons. Typically, science considers these composite particles matter because they have both rest mass and volume. By contrast, massless particles, such as photons, are not considered matter, because they have neither rest mass nor volume. However, not all particles with rest mass have a classical volume, since fundamental particles such as quarks and leptons are considered "point particles" with no effective size or volume. Nevertheless, quarks and leptons together make up "ordinary matter," and their interactions contribute to the effective volume of the composite particles that make up ordinary matter. Matter commonly exists in four states: solid, liquid and gas, and plasma. . However, advances in experimental techniques have revealed other previously theoretical phases, such as Bose–Einstein condensates and fermionic condensates. A focus on an elementary-particle view of matter also leads to new phases of matter, such as the quark–gluon plasma. For much of the history of the natural sciences people have contemplated the exact nature of matter. The idea that matter was built of discrete building blocks, the so-called particulate theory of matter, was first put forward by the Greek philosophers Leucippus and Democritus.²²

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Matter

    mat′ėr, n. that which occupies space, and with which we become acquainted by our bodily senses: that out of which anything is made: that which receiving a form becomes a substance: the subject or thing treated of: anything engaging the attention: that with which one has to do: cause of a thing: thing of consequence: something requiring remedy or explanation: any special allegation in law: importance: a measure, &c., of indefinite amount: (print.) material for work, type set up: mere dead substance, that which is thrown off by a living body, esp. pus, or the fluid in boils, tumours, and festering sores.—v.i. to be of importance: to signify: to form or discharge matter in a sore:—pr.p. matt′ering; pa.p. matt′ered.adjs. Matt′erful, full of matter, pithy; Matt′erless; Matt′er-of-fact, adhering to the matter of fact: not fanciful: dry; Matt′ery, significant: purulent.—Matter of course, occurring in natural time and order, as a thing to be expected; Matter of fact, really happening and not fanciful or supposed: not wandering beyond realities. [O. Fr. matiere—L. materia, matter.]

Military Dictionary and Gazetteer

  1. matter

    That with regard to which anything takes place,—the subject of action, complaint, discussion, legal action, or the like. A word used in reference to courts-martial. The specific charges which are brought against a prisoner, and to which the court must strictly confine itself. Also applied to the evidence before a legal tribunal. New matter is new evidence not before considered.

Editors Contribution

  1. matter

    A type and form of energy, color, consciousness, data, information, light and frequency.

    The matter within a building is very important.

    Submitted by MaryC on January 13, 2020  

Suggested Resources

  1. matter

    Song lyrics by matter -- Explore a large variety of song lyrics performed by matter on the Lyrics.com website.

Surnames Frequency by Census Records


    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Matter is ranked #11069 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

    The Matter surname appeared 2,870 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 1 would have the surname Matter.

    92.6% or 2,659 total occurrences were White.
    2.6% or 75 total occurrences were of Hispanic origin.
    2% or 58 total occurrences were of two or more races.
    1.2% or 37 total occurrences were Black.
    0.8% or 24 total occurrences were Asian.
    0.5% or 17 total occurrences were American Indian or Alaskan Native.

Matched Categories

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'matter' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #581

  2. Written Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'matter' in Written Corpus Frequency: #593

  3. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'matter' in Nouns Frequency: #122

  4. Verbs Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'matter' in Verbs Frequency: #387

How to pronounce matter?

How to say matter in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of matter in Chaldean Numerology is: 2

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of matter in Pythagorean Numerology is: 5

Examples of matter in a Sentence

  1. Valerie Bertinelli:

    But I want to start feeling the same about myself — no matter what weight I am, i don’t have to wait until I’ve lost weight to be kind to myself and to be kind to others. It shouldn’t matter what I look like.

  2. Buster Murdaugh:

    As a result of the brutal murders of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh on June 7, SLED’s initial priority was finding anyone responsible for their deaths. During the course of the double murder investigation, SLED agents have uncovered other potential crimes that warrant further investigation, sLED agents continue to work diligently to bring justice to all victims in these cases. As I have previously stated, our agents remain committed to following the facts no matter where they lead us.

  3. Neal Pire:

    It’s a matter of constructing the room properly.

  4. Meister Pier mother:

    No matter where you are this is something you need to be aware of….

  5. Barack Obama:

    I've fulfilled that dream, including `Star Trek,' for that matter, if that's part of the legacy, then I'm very pleased with that. I would hope the work I chose to do had some reason for being done other than just simply being a job.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for matter

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

  • مادة, أمر, جسمArabic
  • hmota, látka, důvod, záležetCzech
  • stofDanish
  • Anlass, Substanz, Stoff, Materie, Angelegenheit, MasseGerman
  • aferoEsperanto
  • materia, asunto, importarSpanish
  • tilanne, aihe, aine, pulma, materia, ongelma, hätä, merkitä, olla merkitystä, haitataFinnish
  • matière, affaire, importerFrench
  • saak, matearjeWestern Frisian
  • ábhar, misteIrish
  • חומר, עילה, נושאHebrew
  • बात, मामलाHindi
  • ügy, dolog, anyagHungarian
  • materia, problema, argomento, questione, faccenda, causa, importare, contareItalian
  • 物質, 事Japanese
  • 물질, 物質Korean
  • fabula, pertineo ad, pertineoLatin
  • matūMāori
  • jirimMalay
  • stof, materie, er toe doen, belangrijk zijnDutch
  • materia, sprawaPolish
  • causa, matéria, motivo, problema, situação, razão, importarPortuguese
  • subiect, substanță, materie, fond, problemă, material, chestiune, cauzăRomanian
  • вопрос, материя, дело, вещество, повод, материал, иметь, значениеRussian
  • materija, pitanje, tvar, biti bitno, imati značenje, imati važnostSerbo-Croatian
  • materia, stoff, angelägenhet, fråga, ärende, spela rollSwedish
  • likhatasTagalog
  • матеріяUkrainian
  • معاملہ, باتUrdu
  • vật chất, 物質Vietnamese
  • Chinese
  • indaba, udabaZulu

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    closely constrained or constricted or constricting
    • A. tight
    • B. urban
    • C. reassuring
    • D. occasional

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