Definition of material in English:



  • 1The matter from which a thing is or can be made.

    ‘goats can eat more or less any plant material’
    [count noun] ‘highly flammable materials’
    • ‘It is formed from decomposing underground deposits of organic matter such as decaying plant material.’
    • ‘The fire spread so quickly, he said, because there was a lot of flammable material inside the building.’
    • ‘Efforts to extinguish the blaze were hampered by the large amount of flammable material inside the building.’
    • ‘A virus is a small packet of infectious nucleic acid material surrounded by a protein coat.’
    • ‘This sculpture was room size and not made of any fine material like marble or wood.’
    • ‘The officer saw an open-backed truck at the site containing a large amount of asbestos cement roofing material.’
    • ‘Try to remove all large rocks, pebbles, and plant material from the soil.’
    • ‘Previous attempts to break down the plant into reusable material and fertiliser have been defeated because of its high moisture content.’
    • ‘The relief material includes biscuits, water, candles, matchsticks and bread.’
    • ‘Gone are the days when wood was the basic material used for boat building.’
    • ‘Bacteria and insects break down organic material to produce soil and nutrients so plants can grow.’
    • ‘At higher elevations on these mountains, the parent material is acid crystalline rock.’
    • ‘A wine-like beverage can be made from almost any fruit, berry, or other plant material containing sugar.’
    • ‘Any samples of hair, blood or other organic material removed from the cars will be matched up against a national database.’
    • ‘That is because mined diamonds are a carbon gem material and synthetic diamonds are polycrystalline.’
    • ‘Many of the males and a few of the females wear stuff that looks like leather, but most is woven animal fur or plant material of kinds I do not know.’
    • ‘The sediment is cemented by material derived from pore waters and grain dissolution.’
    • ‘Gas cylinders contain flammable material - the fire extinguishers put out fires.’
    • ‘This region's ample sunlight breaks down the organic material in sewage into food for plankton.’
    • ‘For the first three harvests, plant material was bulked across three gullies to obtain sufficient plant material for mineral analyses.’
    matter, substance, stuff, medium
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Things needed for an activity.
      ‘cleaning materials’
      • ‘They sat together, looking on a little suspiciously as the tools and materials were gathered together.’
      • ‘They have potentially fatal deficiencies in the areas of design, equipment and materials.’
      • ‘It is important therefore to know how to create effective teaching materials.’
      • ‘The railway stations revert to older materials and greater personal care is evident.’
      • ‘There is no good scientific evidence that these materials are effective at all.’
      • ‘This is the way we get the bulk of the tools and materials we need for projects on the house.’
      • ‘Any money given to the project will be used toward the purchase of materials for the above activities.’
      • ‘They cut into course tutor time and need costly equipment and materials to make them of value to the young people.’
      • ‘You have to get all the staff, materials and equipment to the right place at the right time.’
      • ‘Other icons lead to full construction details plus information about materials and tools.’
      • ‘The managers made a point of ensuring that materials never touched the ground.’
      • ‘So first of all get hold of the right materials and tools for the job in hand.’
      • ‘Throwing money and materials and implements at the problem is not dealing with the problem.’
      • ‘This will also include supplying materials and equipment required for all events.’
      • ‘He said sugar, cement, timber and building material were some of the marketable goods in the neighboring countries.’
      • ‘He strikingly adapted the quality of painting technique and materials to different budgets.’
      • ‘Many students are unable to get class materials, proper exam booklets or take part in labs.’
      • ‘It created a flash flood effect and I was in the middle of rapids containing debris, wood and all matter of building material.’
      • ‘Banana juice also can be used for making wine while the banana powder could be a basic starting material for making banana biscuits.’
      • ‘Jefferson's choice of roofing material was the other matter to be considered.’
      things, items, articles, stuff, necessaries
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2[with adjective or noun modifier]A person of a specified quality or suitability.
      ‘he's not really Olympic material’
      • ‘He is not teller material or bank material for that matter, but he sure makes me laugh.’
      things, items, articles, stuff, necessaries
      View synonyms
  • 2Information or ideas for use in creating a book or other work.

    ‘his colonial experiences gave him material’
    • ‘The source material was great books, and the host was a famous radio journalist.’
    • ‘We found some of the most informative material for this review in grey literature.’
    • ‘But, after a considerable amount of said hanging about, he accumulated enough material to write a book.’
    • ‘He obviously hoped to repeat his success with another trip, but the second cruise was dogged by bad weather and did not provide enough material for a book.’
    • ‘We are currently researching material for a book.’
    • ‘Part of their brief was to provide work for an exhibition in November and to provide material for a book published at the same time.’
    • ‘Her spiky style and confident handling of the source material creates a book which is more of a literary event than a quiet read.’
    • ‘She makes no attempt to disguise her material in order to create the illusion of a realistic scene.’
    • ‘I am continuing to gather material for the cat book and, in parallel, pulling poems together in one place.’
    • ‘Singletons might use it as a dating agency, novelists as material for a book, market researchers as the easiest way to corner unsuspecting prey.’
    • ‘And the director made the most of the quality material that had finally landed in his lap.’
    • ‘According to an excitable tabloid, he viewed the murder as good material for a future book.’
    • ‘I had been turning this around in my mind for some time, trying to think through just what would make my kids worthy material for a book.’
    • ‘There, in a nutshell, is the source material for countless books.’
    information, data, facts, facts and figures, statistics, evidence, subject matter, ideas, details, particulars
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1Items, such as songs or jokes, comprising a performer's act.
      ‘a watchable band playing original material’
      • ‘They've got good delivery, and the show's writers create solid if unremarkable material.’
      • ‘The Keighley band will include original material in its set along with new chart covers.’
      • ‘It's a tough job to have to sit down and actively think about ways to be funny, and create material for a show.’
      • ‘The seven-piece outfit perform Tex-Mex classics, Spanish songs and original material.’
      • ‘More seriously, it seems that not a few musicians seek out less well-known foreign songs as material for their own albums.’
      • ‘The remaining films are in the main from writer-directors who create their own material.’
      • ‘So why aren't more studios willing to take a risk with quality material?’
      • ‘The new material varies in quality, but it is nice to have on this disc.’
      • ‘Have you expanded your repertoire, and if so will your explorative work with your new kit inform your next material?’
      • ‘There are originals in there too, and these are not overshadowed by the quality of the interpreted material.’
      • ‘His performance will feature both old material and songs from the new album.’
      • ‘They gave many performances of original arrangements from his operetta material.’
      • ‘The long-player will mix original material with traditional songs and is due out late next month.’
      • ‘The sound quality is almost always atrocious, but for obsessive fans hungry for material, this matters little.’
      • ‘Even considering just her four most recent albums, that's an awful lot of quality material to consider.’
      • ‘How could an entire album worth of quality material be left on the cutting floor?’
      • ‘No matter how good his material is, the audience wear him down with a mixture of catatonia and contempt.’
      • ‘How does she create her material, and what comes first, words or music?’
      • ‘He has recorded some excellent quality material over the years and is a great admirer of the songs of the late John Denver.’
      • ‘The ensemble often draws its material from narrative folk songs.’
  • 3Cloth or fabric.

    ‘a piece of dark material’
    [count noun] ‘dress materials’
    • ‘Heavy, tight weave fabrics will burn more slowly than loose weave, light fabrics of the same material.’
    • ‘I glanced at Matt in the dim light, noticing how he blended in with the shadows due to the dark material of his clothing.’
    • ‘The dress of fine material clung to her curvy figure as if it were part of her skin.’
    • ‘I've spent hours going around those fabric shops looking for material.’
    • ‘The clothes, as many of the designers put it, are produced from quality material with close attention to detail.’
    • ‘I gasped when I saw the material; it was a sheer blue shimmery silk material that felt like water.’
    • ‘Insulation is a type of fabric or material in a lining that can protect from either outside heat or cold.’
    • ‘The water seeped through the thin material of her dress and made her shiver.’
    • ‘The year's supply of knitting is over, so now I plan to get some dress material decorated for some of the younger girls.’
    • ‘He was dressed in black material that reflected some of his light and made him seem even whiter.’
    • ‘The purple dress of velvet material had fitted her perfectly.’
    • ‘Multi-hued swathes of dress material and shirting are an added attraction.’
    • ‘He pretended to dust an imaginary piece of lint from the dark material before returning his gaze to the other man.’
    • ‘I think that that has come out in the way that you have worked with fabric and material and design.’
    • ‘She picked out a plain dress of dark green material and a clean loin cloth.’
    • ‘I wiped my right hand repeatedly on the dark gray material of the skirt.’
    • ‘The material of the dress I wore was very unflattering; it bulged and fell flat in all the wrong places.’
    • ‘He had a piece of dark material masking his face and was wearing a black, cotton casual jacket.’
    • ‘Laminating this material to a carrier fabric (a fleece, for example) maximises this efficiency.’
    • ‘This led him to the trade of a florist and later to creation of artificial flowers in satin, velvet, silk and other dress material.’
    fabric, cloth, stuff, textiles
    View synonyms


  • 1[attributive] Denoting or consisting of physical objects rather than the mind or spirit.

    ‘the material world’
    • ‘The show was put together rather hastily, in a bid to raise moral and material support for the artist who is ailing.’
    • ‘If one doesn't have a political conscience and if one has the material or physical means, it's easy to be egocentric.’
    • ‘The modern measure of success is material reward rather than the satisfaction of a job well done.’
    • ‘All mentioned material things like a large salary, a nice house, an SUV, and so on.’
    • ‘These theories remind us that historical events are experienced by individuals in a material way on real bodies and minds.’
    • ‘It would be far better if the discussion of economics took a more rigorous approach to the material world rather than indulging in amateur psychology.’
    • ‘When we turn the page of a book, we're aware of a new yet essentially stable material physical space.’
    • ‘He is sadly pedaling a form of escapism that neglects the real material existence.’
    • ‘I am more interested in building relationships with people rather than receiving material items.’
    • ‘In many cases, we look to the exterior values, being physical or of a material nature.’
    • ‘This conception of truth reflected more on the essence rather than the material manifestation of truth.’
    • ‘Rather, it is crucial to connect individual states of mind to material circumstances.’
    • ‘They are encouraged to have material goals which require substantial assets - again, so that they will be motivated sellers.’
    • ‘The story charts a difference from matter as material to matter as meaning.’
    • ‘It assumes that the virtual is a substitute for the material realm, rather than an adjunct to it.’
    • ‘It is a human invention or creation not of a physical or material kind but of a purely intellectual and ideational kind.’
    • ‘In familiar, romantic fashion, this culture is associated with spiritual rather than with material values.’
    • ‘The problem is rather that his material circumstances are not in his control.’
    • ‘Descartes believes in a more or less natural form of interaction between immaterial mind and material body.’
    • ‘This partially explains the material dimension of his iconography, rooted in the physical world of nature around him.’
    physical, corporeal, tangible, non-spiritual, mundane, worldly, earthly, temporal, concrete, real, solid, substantial, secular, lay
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Concerned with money or possessions rather than the needs of the mind or spirit.
      ‘material living standards have risen’
      • ‘Bear in mind that most material invocations for wordly gains will almost inevitably carry some degree of bad luck.’
      • ‘To achieve this, we will have to put an end to our single minded devotion to material pursuits.’
      • ‘Long before Europeans arrived, it has been suggested, Australia was a prosperous land, with a high material standard of living.’
      • ‘You are generous and proud in family situations especially regarding material and property matters.’
      • ‘By and large, human spiritual welfare is seen as far more important than material welfare right through this period.’
      • ‘Despite the billions he pocketed from running his hedge fund, he maintains greater interest in philosophy than matters material.’
      • ‘This symbolises a need our soaring material culture cannot satisfy.’
      • ‘Did he want to be with someone who only liked him for material and physical criteria?’
      sensual, carnal, materialistic, corporal, fleshly, physical, bodily
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2Concerned with the matter of reasoning, not its form.
      ‘political conflict lacks mathematical or material certitude’
      • ‘Synthetic or material a priori truths are not reducible to formal truths.’
  • 2Significant; important.

    ‘the insects did not do any material damage to the crop’
    • ‘But are there any material reasons why he shouldn't be permitted to take that trip and find out?’
    • ‘We agreed with the firm that in failing to obtain a vet's report, he had breached an important and material condition of the policy.’
    • ‘But what is material damage to property, and why should locality be less important in this case?’
    • ‘It will give auditors a better understanding of what is of material significance to the banks' regulator.’
    • ‘Relationships ought thus to be preserved or restored and the concept of teamwork realised or saved from material damage.’
    • ‘The practices are grounded in a material reality with actual, material consequences.’
    • ‘If this is so, we may conclude that the material component in the definition of a species is intelligible matter.’
    • ‘If there's no disputing about taste, there's also no disputing some of the material consequences of taste.’
    • ‘A majority of their Lordships treated a material increase in the risk as equivalent to a material contribution to the damage.’
    • ‘It is not an intensely material matter here, but it explains a lot that has happened.’
    • ‘Now, physical prowess is admittedly not a material qualification for public office.’
    significant, major, important, of consequence, consequential, momentous
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1Law (of evidence or a fact) significant or relevant, especially to the extent of determining a cause or affecting a judgement.
      ‘information that could be material to a murder inquiry’
      • ‘The Defendants had a legitimate interest in drawing attention to matters which were material in one or other of these two statutory purposes.’
      • ‘The situation in the crisis alters almost by the hour but as at Wednesday morning I will try and give you an update of matters that are material.’
      • ‘It must be proved that the accused was suffering from an abnormality of mind at the material time.’
      • ‘One reason to hold material witnesses is that they are considered likely to flee the country.’
      • ‘In this case the following matters are particularly material.’
      relevant, applicable, pertinent, apposite, germane
      View synonyms


Late Middle English (in the sense ‘relating to matter’): from late Latin materialis, adjective from Latin materia matter.