Definition of matter in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈmadər/


1Physical substance in general, as distinct from mind and spirit; (in physics) that which occupies space and possesses rest mass, especially as distinct from energy: the structure and properties of matter
More example sentences
  • In general, the distinction between matter and antimatter is somewhat arbitrary.
  • Einstein described what we call gravity as curves in space and time, created by matter and energy.
  • As a result, the energy exchange between matter and radiation becomes less efficient.
1.1A substance or material: organic matter vegetable matter fecal matter
More example sentences
  • Students of a nearby school found poisonous organic matter in water samples they studied.
  • It can be discounted here because of the absence of clay minerals and organic matter in freshly erupted ash.
  • If your soil is high in clay or sand, add organic matter to break up clay particles for better drainage.
material, substance, stuff
1.2Written or printed material: reading matter
More example sentences
  • Reading matter is transcribed into Braille for her, and she also uses audiotapes.
  • One certainty is that you will not fill the void with personal jottings or reading matter.
  • Any course on psychotherapy should include this book as additional reading matter.
2An affair or situation under consideration; a topic: a great deal of work was done on this matter financial matters
More example sentences
  • A brief consideration of the matter shows that it is a serious situation.
  • A Scottish Executive spokesman said matters arising from the inquiry were a matter for the Crown Office.
  • All the above noted issues are matters for discussion and consideration.
affair, business, proceeding, situation, circumstance, event, happening, occurrence, incident, episode, experience;
subject, topic, issue, question, point, point at issue, case, concern
2.1 Law Something that is to be tried or proved in court; a case.
Example sentences
  • Accordingly the Full Court ordered that the matter be remitted to the primary judge.
  • By the time the matter came before the Court of Appeal, in December 2000, the Act had come into force.
  • This, assuming he is honest and vigilant, he should be able to do, at any rate when the matter comes before the court.
2.2 (matters) The present situation or state of affairs: we can do nothing to change matters
More example sentences
  • His defence of spin is not unreasonable: of course politicians do what they can to present matters in the light that reflects best on them.
  • It has to be said that this was a very poor affair and to make matters even worse from a Johnville point of view, they lost the game.
  • To make matters worse, our affair had been common knowledge amongst most members of her family.
2.3 (a matter for/of) Something that evokes a specified feeling: it’s a matter of complete indifference to me
More example sentences
  • If Australia somehow pull off victory this week, it should not be a matter for national mourning.
  • The nature of their current relationship must remain a matter for conjecture.
  • I think that perhaps the best way for me to cope with being over-weight is to make it a matter for jollity.
2.4 (a matter for) Something that is the concern of a specified person or agency: the evidence is a matter for the courts
More example sentences
  • We are not supposed to know as the contents are, in theory, a matter for the Monarch.
  • The moral aspect is a matter for those who believe society is worsened by these changes.
  • We are not aware of this group and these actions may well be unlawful which is a matter for the police.
3 [usually with negative or in questions] (the matter) The reason for distress or a problem: what’s the matter? pretend that nothing’s the matter
More example sentences
  • Two years ago I would have wondered what was the matter with the dog.
  • What is the matter with this man and his brain-to-mouth impediment?
  • If you do not find him funny there is something the matter with you.
problem, trouble, difficulty, complication;
upset, worry
4The substance or content of a text as distinct from its manner or form.
Example sentences
  • It's also not a show that's performed very often - and having seen the content matter, I can see why.
content, subject matter, text, argument, substance
4.1 Printing The body of a printed work, as distinct from titles, headings, etc.
4.2 Logic The particular content of a proposition, as distinct from its form.


[no object]
1 [usually with negative or in questions] Be of importance; have significance: it doesn’t matter what the guests wear what did it matter to them? to him, animals mattered more than human beings
More example sentences
  • Material things are not important and don't matter to us anymore.
  • I don't think it mattered to him and I suspect it didn't matter to most of the audience.
  • Things that used to matter to her before didn't matter now that she had this.
importance, consequence, significance, note, import, weight
formal moment
be important, make any/a difference, be of importance, be of consequence, be relevant, count
informal cut any ice
1.1(Of a person) be important or influential: she was trying to get known by the people who matter
2 rare, chiefly US (Of a wound) secrete or discharge pus.



for that matter

Used to indicate that a subject or category, though mentioned second, is as relevant or important as the first: I am not sure what value it adds to determining public, or for that matter private, policy
More example sentences
  • What does it mean to have a professional life or a private life for that matter?
  • In my day we never dreamed of billing and cooing in public, or in private for that matter.
  • What effect did it have on the scholars around the world, and for that matter, the public?

in the matter of

As regards: the British are given preeminence in the matter of tea
More example sentences
  • To her further credit, she has also agreed to let sanity be our guide in the matter of whether a medium-sized family suitcase is any place for a surfboard.
  • It has also proved unfair to women, leaving out choice in the matter of reproductive rights.
  • I believe this is precisely the case in the matter of whether or not to extend the arm before the lunge, as it is in so many others.

it is only a matter of time

There will not be long to wait: it’s only a matter of time before the general is removed
More example sentences
  • I think it is only a matter of time with Michael, but we can't wait on that.
  • But barring ill health on his part, it is only a matter of time until he becomes chairman.
  • All products are merged into one another, and it is only a matter of time before it is out of your control and there is one single super-product left.

a matter of

1No more than (a specified period of time): they were shown the door in a matter of minutes
More example sentences
  • Some cab customers may think it's just a matter of luck that a driver is at their door in a matter of minutes.
  • Then, if an unexpected caller knocks at the door, the resident is able to summon help in a matter of minutes.
  • It was getting towards sun down, and she reached her apartment in a matter of 25 minutes.
2A thing that involves or depends on: it’s a matter of working out how to get something done
More example sentences
  • It's a matter of all the players involved in the club progressing on from last year.
  • Whether his political standpoint is your cup of tea is a matter of choice.
  • Tea terminology is a matter of concern to tea drinkers and also to cooks who are using tea as a flavouring.

a matter of course

The natural or expected thing: the reports are published as a matter of course
More example sentences
  • It is expected the medal will be issued as a matter of course, and it's unlikely serving members will be required to apply for it.
  • Sponsors want a return on their investment and visual awareness, through branding, is a matter of course.
  • Shouting as others talk is a matter of course, and as long as you don't use the word liar it seems that you can say pretty much anything.

a matter of form

A point of correct procedure: they must as a matter of proper form check to see that there is no tax liability
More example sentences
  • Up to now I always took such statements as being a matter of form, something that judges say as a way of consoling those who didn't win.
  • If he is a just man who protects the poor he will be popular and will not need an electoral mandate, except as a matter of form.
  • Your Honour, the only other matter is that, as a matter of form, I submit, the condition should be against the Commonwealth, rather than the Attorney.

a matter of record

see record.

no matter

1 [with clause] Regardless of: no matter what the government calls them, they are cuts
More example sentences
  • The human spirit is basically the same no matter what area of the world you are in or come from.
  • She would never turn her back on me, no matter what I did, and it's the same for me.
  • You don't have to take every call at any time, no matter how important you may wish to look.
2It is of no importance: “No matter, I’ll go myself.”
More example sentences
  • Time will tell if it is more than a piece of military muscle-flexing, but no matter.
it doesn't matter, it makes no difference, it's not important, never mind, don't worry about it

to make matters worse

With the result that a bad situation is made worse.
Example sentences
  • And to make matters worse, the bloody landlord won't turn on the heat.
  • And to make matters worse, there may be a lengthy struggle to win redundancy cash for employees.
  • And to make matters worse, when I got in there, he was standing there!

what matter?

British dated Why should that worry us? what matter if he was a Protestant or not?


Middle English: via Old French from Latin materia 'timber, substance', also 'subject of discourse', from mater 'mother'.

Words that rhyme with matter

attar, batter, bespatter, chatter, clatter, flatter, hatter, Kenyatta, latter, matamata, natter, patter, platter, ratter, regatta, satyr, scatter, shatter, smatter, spatter, splatter, yatter

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: mat·ter

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