Definition of matter in English:


Line breaks: mat¦ter
Pronunciation: /ˈmatə


  • 1 [mass noun] Physical 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.
  • 1.1 [usually with adjective] A particular substance: organic matter faecal 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.
  • 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.
  • 1.3 Printing The body of a printed work, as distinct from titles, headings, etc..
  • 2A subject or situation under consideration: 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.
  • 2.1 Law Something which is to be tried or proved in court; a case.
    More 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 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.
  • 2.3The substance or content of a text as distinct from its style or form.
    More 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, thesis, sense, purport, gist, pith, essentials, burden
  • 2.4 Logic The particular content of a proposition, as distinct from its form.
  • 3 [with negative or in questions] (the matter) The reason for distress or a problem: what’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, upset, distress, worry, bother, complication


[no object] Back to top  
  • 2 rare , chiefly US (Of a wound) secrete or discharge pus.


for that matter

Used to indicate that a subject, though mentioned second, is as relevant 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 pre-eminence 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.
  • 3 (a matter of/for) 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.

a matter of course

The usual 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.

to make matters worse

With the result that a bad situation is made worse: to make matters worse, free school meals have been withdrawn
More 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?: They were in collusion. But what matter, since apparently he didn’t care?


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

More definitions of matter

Definition of matter in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day astrogation
Pronunciation: ˌastrə(ʊ)ˈgeɪʃ(ə)n
(in science fiction) navigation in outer space