Definition of matter in English:



  • 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’
    • ‘Thus dark energy is intrinsically relativistic and is more like energy than matter.’
    • ‘For the physicist, time and space, along with matter, form part of the equipment that the universe comes with.’
    • ‘The metaphor my old physics professor liked was that matter is energy tied into knots.’
    • ‘They're a bit like caps on a shaken soda bottle, and upwelling matter and energy can blow at any moment.’
    • ‘Where do space, matter, energy, and the forces of nature come from?’
    • ‘When ionizing radiations pass through matter, energy is deposited in the material concerned.’
    • ‘Physics is the science which deals with properties and interactions of matter and energy.’
    • ‘I'm not sure if the anti-matter and matter particles annihilating each other produces some kind of energy.’
    • ‘Einstein described what we call gravity as curves in space and time, created by matter and energy.’
    • ‘Right now the dominant forms of energy in our Universe are matter and vacuum energy.’
    • ‘As a result, the energy exchange between matter and radiation becomes less efficient.’
    • ‘This is the amount of heat energy necessary to change the phase or state of matter from liquid to gas.’
    • ‘Their properties are determined locally by the changing patterns of matter and energy residing within them.’
    • ‘Why is the universe made of matter and not equal parts of matter and antimatter?’
    • ‘With their knowledge, the spaceships could become mass, matter, energy or any form of radiation.’
    • ‘For one thing, how can empty space explode without there being matter or energy?’
    • ‘In general, the distinction between matter and antimatter is somewhat arbitrary.’
    • ‘The electromagnetic spectrum describes all matter as wave frequencies.’
    • ‘In the universe matter and physical space are in permanent dynamic equilibrium.’
    • ‘Inflation involves a curious change in the properties of matter at very high energies known as a phase transition.’
    material, substance, stuff, medium
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1A substance or material.
      ‘organic matter’
      ‘vegetable matter’
      ‘fecal matter’
      • ‘Students of a nearby school found poisonous organic matter in water samples they studied.’
      • ‘The latrines had a heater beneath, which would burn the faecal matter slowly without causing any smell.’
      • ‘Clean out all of the warm weather crops and add organic matter and fertilizer and work them well into the soil.’
      • ‘The idea worked with vegetable matter but slugs, being slimier, tended to clog an essential filter.’
      • ‘Soils with more clay and organic matter tend to hold water and dissolved chemicals longer.’
      • ‘Five of the sites were sandy soils and five were clays or soils high in organic matter.’
      • ‘If an animal consumes both meat and vegetable matter, what is the scientific term by which it is called?’
      • ‘What happens is without the addition of organic matter, the soil in our gardens eventually become lifeless.’
      • ‘Compost is the living, black material that is made from rotting fruits, grains and other organic matter.’
      • ‘If your soil is high in clay or sand, add organic matter to break up clay particles for better drainage.’
      • ‘They eat vegetable matter, dead insects and reportedly even enjoy dining on the odd bird dropping.’
      • ‘More often than not these kinds of infections are caused through faecal matter but there were no reports of any incidents of that sort on that day.’
      • ‘The most important of all the routine is the checking of the faecal matter of the animal and how it urinates.’
      • ‘Whether the soil is heavy clay or sandy and very free draining, it can be greatly improved by the addition of bulky organic matter.’
      • ‘It can be discounted here because of the absence of clay minerals and organic matter in freshly erupted ash.’
      • ‘This basically boils down to adding lots of lovely organic matter.’
      • ‘Beans interplanted with corn help add organic matter and fix nitrogen at the same time.’
      • ‘Layers of leaves or other organic matter are sometimes added to speed decomposition.’
      • ‘Be careful not to overmix the layers, as this can bury organic matter too deeply.’
      • ‘The grey colour and the preservation of organic matter reflect waterlogged conditions and reducing pore waters.’
      material, substance, stuff, medium
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    2. 1.2Written or printed material.
      ‘reading matter’
      • ‘Men don't bring that perspective to their reading matter.’
      • ‘But the middle classes demanded cheaper and more accessible reading matter.’
      • ‘Any readers who can suggest suitable reading matter or anything else to keep him amused would be doing me a favour.’
      • ‘I have finished the books I am reviewing and have come to the magic moment when I get to choose some reading matter.’
      • ‘Reading matter in the form of newspapers and magazines was available.’
      • ‘Sometimes you need reading matter from a universe without emotional complications.’
      • ‘We grew impatient waiting for the next dose of reading matter.’
      • ‘Information is provided on the availability of reading matter and its suitability.’
      • ‘Any course on psychotherapy should include this book as additional reading matter.’
      • ‘I've seen people have all kinds of reading matter in the bathroom, whether it's on a shelf, on the floor or in a dedicated rack.’
      • ‘Many toilets now place reading matter above the urinal so that you don't even have to think about either eye contact or talking.’
      • ‘A similar dearth of reading matter prevails in other school subjects.’
      • ‘One certainty is that you will not fill the void with personal jottings or reading matter.’
      • ‘This is no modern day phenomenon, as I discovered in my reading matter.’
      • ‘Reading matter is transcribed into Braille for her, and she also uses audiotapes.’
      • ‘Note, too, the excellent timeline and illustrated reading matter.’
      • ‘I am not one to equivocate the past so I will move on to current reading matter.’
      • ‘After that Herb always sent me reading matter by various Indonesia experts.’
      • ‘The wall of shelves behind me contains more printed matter and a host of highly various items.’
      • ‘For want of something better to say today, here's a couple of rather wonderful quotes from my present reading matter.’
  • 2An affair or situation under consideration; a topic.

    ‘a great deal of work was done on this matter’
    ‘financial matters’
    • ‘I don't see how one can be objective about subjective matters.’
    • ‘The cabinet consideration of those matters is appropriate and I stand by it.’
    • ‘Within this latter group lies cutlery, perhaps the most banal and uninteresting of eating-related subject matters.’
    • ‘They were asking me about it last night, and I started trying to explain when the subject turned to other matters.’
    • ‘He paused, having nothing further to say on the matter and then changed subject.’
    • ‘He has no say in the decision, but said he had urged the council to give the matter serious consideration.’
    • ‘The falling bodily strength of teenagers is a matter requiring serious consideration on a national level.’
    • ‘It was time to turn the subject back to the matter at hand.’
    • ‘The fact is, most of us find financial matters rather dull and often complicated.’
    • ‘In recent years the matter has been subjected to renewed debate, yet it is still poorly understood.’
    • ‘A brief consideration of the matter shows that it is a serious situation.’
    • ‘All the above noted issues are matters for discussion and consideration.’
    • ‘What is being ruled out by these considerations is doubt concerning matters which are fundamental to our linguistic and other practices.’
    • ‘A Scottish Executive spokesman said matters arising from the inquiry were a matter for the Crown Office.’
    • ‘The summiteers would like to keep their meeting focused on bilateral matters.’
    • ‘It was this experience that called my attention to the matter under consideration.’
    • ‘A spokesman said later that they were taking an interest and were giving the matter careful consideration.’
    • ‘Magistrates were also asked to take 53 further matters into consideration.’
    • ‘You can trust your intuition and gut feelings about family situations and professional matters.’
    • ‘First, there are the occasional free-ranging debates on matters of great issue.’
    affair, business, proceeding, situation, circumstance, event, happening, occurrence, incident, episode, occasion, experience, thing
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    1. 2.1Law Something that is to be tried or proved in court; a case.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Of course, it will be open to the claimants to place the matter before the Court of Appeal if so advised.’
      • ‘Admittedly, the second applicant could have brought the matter before the High Court.’
    2. 2.2The present situation or state of affairs.
      ‘we can do nothing to change matters’
      • ‘As if to further even up matters, both sides fielded with a number of notable absentees.’
      • ‘The exploitation of the oil fields has further complicated matters and pushed the possibility of a peaceful settlement further away.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘To make matters worse, our affair had been common knowledge amongst most members of her family.’
      • ‘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.’
      transactions, concerns, matters, activities, dealings, undertakings, ventures, proceedings
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    3. 2.3Something that evokes a specified feeling.
      ‘it's a matter of complete indifference to me’
      • ‘On this basis, the spillage of a million tons of oil is indeed a matter for ecological concern.’
      • ‘By the later Middle Ages, the right to a coat of arms had become a matter for social pride and strict control.’
      • ‘I think that perhaps the best way for me to cope with being over-weight is to make it a matter for jollity.’
      • ‘The nature of their current relationship must remain a matter for conjecture.’
      • ‘His death is no more a matter for public grief than the death of my grandmother.’
      • ‘What is a matter for concern is that no one said a word to these children.’
      • ‘If his behaviour becomes a matter for moderator concern, that's a bit different.’
      • ‘That human rights enjoy such prestige is a matter for rejoicing, but it is somewhat beside the point.’
      • ‘If Australia somehow pull off victory this week, it should not be a matter for national mourning.’
    4. 2.4Something that is the concern of a specified person or agency.
      ‘the evidence is a matter for the courts’
      • ‘It is a matter for the plaintiff whether she wants to leave the window open or not.’
      • ‘In the end it really is just a matter for the two of them and their families.’
      • ‘We are not aware of this group and these actions may well be unlawful which is a matter for the police.’
      • ‘If you want to raise that matter again in the disciplinary proceedings, that is a matter for you.’
      • ‘The college yesterday refused to comment and said it was a matter for the governors.’
      • ‘He has been criticised for making that assessment because, it is said, that is a matter for the judge.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It is not a matter for lawyers or police to decide whether a man is deaf or not.’
      • ‘Whether anyone makes a donation to an individual or a charity is a matter for them.’
  • 3[usually with negative or in questions] The reason for distress or a problem.

    ‘what's the matter?’
    ‘pretend that nothing's the matter’
    • ‘That sentence might be a Rorschach test: if you find nothing much the matter with it, you are an unsaved academic.’
    • ‘If you do not find him funny there is something the matter with you.’
    • ‘The only road to the two farms is by the lane which has been used for centuries, so what is the matter with it now?’
    • ‘There's nothing the matter with practical training for the immediate future.’
    • ‘What's the matter with the good old reliable stuff you already had?’
    • ‘That rational part of me says, it's just another wave, what's the matter with you?’
    • ‘What is the matter with this man and his brain-to-mouth impediment?’
    • ‘Two years ago I would have wondered what was the matter with the dog.’
    • ‘What is the matter with me?’
    • ‘What's the matter with you, do you really hate being part of this band so much?’
    • ‘I don't know what's the matter with me but obviously I was off sick the day that the lobotomies were done at school.’
    • ‘This morning when I got up heavy lidded and still half asleep he wondered what was the matter with me.’
    problem, trouble, difficulty, upset, distress, worry, bother, complication
    View synonyms
  • 4The substance or content of a text as distinct from its manner or form.

    • ‘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
    View synonyms
    1. 4.1Printing The body of a printed work, as distinct from titles, headings, etc.
    2. 4.2Logic The particular content of a proposition, as distinct from its form.


  • 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’
    • ‘It didn't matter to them who they were drawn against in the quarterfinal.’
    • ‘However, that didn't matter to the vociferous home support who cheered their side's maiden league victory to the echo.’
    • ‘When I was younger I never really cared much for this, as it didn't seem to matter to me.’
    • ‘It doesn't matter to me, but, again, I thought it might be important to some.’
    • ‘It doesn't matter to me whether it's a big game or one in the lower divisions.’
    • ‘You bet, but money was on the line, and that, I'm afraid, is the only loyalty that should matter to a professional gambler.’
    • ‘I don't think it mattered to him and I suspect it didn't matter to most of the audience.’
    • ‘Racing should welcome the white paper because at long last the government are tackling issues which matter to punters.’
    • ‘You know, you may feel good or bad about who wins, but it doesn't really matter to your life.’
    • ‘It didn't really matter to me who won last night in Melbourne.’
    • ‘Things that used to matter to her before didn't matter now that she had this.’
    • ‘For instance, we purposefully deflect our gaze from features that would normally matter to us.’
    • ‘This, understandably, didn't matter to those decked out in blue and red.’
    • ‘It doesn't really matter to me who is prime minister, who's president, who has what job.’
    • ‘Football is a pretty good example: you can usually tell when the result of a game doesn't matter to one side.’
    • ‘It didn't seem to matter to Paul - within seconds he was able to answer your query.’
    • ‘Sure it's nice if they needed the money or whatever, but if I don't see a penny of it, then it don't matter to me.’
    • ‘Ideas matter to all of us who enter public life, particularly at the national level.’
    • ‘It didn't matter to the producers what the name actually meant.’
    • ‘Material things are not important and don't matter to us anymore.’
    make any difference, make a difference, be important, be of importance, be of consequence, signify, be of significance, be relevant, be of account, carry weight, count
    importance, consequence, significance, note, import, moment, weight, interest
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    1. 1.1(of a person) be important or influential.
      ‘she was trying to get known by the people who matter’
      be influential, have influence, be important
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  • 2US rare (of a wound) secrete or discharge pus.

    fester, form pus, swell up, gather, discharge, rot, run, weep, ooze, come to a head
    View synonyms


  • 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’
      • ‘I would never want to be around someone like her, or her loser brother for that matter.’
      • ‘What does it mean to have a professional life or a private life for that matter?’
      • ‘Much more enjoyable, dare I say, and for that matter considerably more informative.’
      • ‘What effect did it have on the scholars around the world, and for that matter, the public?’
      • ‘Odd, as today wasn't all that cold, and nor was yesterday, for that matter, but there you go.’
      • ‘There is no room for second best in this industry or in any industry for that matter.’
      • ‘In my day we never dreamed of billing and cooing in public, or in private for that matter.’
      • ‘No, it is not like I was a model to be emulated in school, or college for that matter.’
      • ‘Can we imagine that he would still be teaching, or for that matter that he would be anything more than a pariah?’
      • ‘One has to add considerable extra time to one's journey just to get out of town or into it, for that matter.’
  • in the matter of

    • As regards.

      ‘the British are given preeminence in the matter of tea’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But it isn't only in the matter of sharing water that the states tend to act in an irresponsible manner.’
      • ‘It is highly influential in the matter of selling wine to restaurants, hotels and high-income consumers.’
      • ‘The mind of human beings is too complex and too unpredictable, especially in the matter of love, of relationships and of love.’
      • ‘But my sympathy is entirely with him in the matter of this guy squirting water into his face.’
      • ‘But corruption is rife in the matter of distribution of cards and relief goods.’
      • ‘I have received some enlightenment in the matter of column position.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It is not so easy to justify extravagance in the matter of funerals.’
      regarding, concerning, with reference to, referring to, with regard to, with respect to, respecting, relating to, in relation to, on, touching on, dealing with, relevant to, with relevance to, in the context of, connected with, on the subject of, in the matter of, apropos, re
      View synonyms
  • 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’
      • ‘Remember, if such lawlessness is allowed to go unchecked it is only a matter of time before you become the next victim.’
      • ‘Given the speed at which these vehicles approach the blind corners in the village it is only a matter of time before a serious accident occurs.’
      • ‘But they have pledged to be back next year, and say it is only a matter of time before they register their first success in the borough.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Knowing the standard of magazines in our house, it is only a matter of time…’
      • ‘Going by the recent weather it is only a matter of time before someone invents an umbrella with sun cream dispenser at the handle.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They say it is only a matter of time before someone is injured.’
      • ‘Publicans and members of the public there feel it is only a matter of time before the ban is introduced across Europe.’
  • a matter of

    • 1No more than (a specified period of time)

      ‘they were shown the door in a matter of minutes’
      • ‘Some cab customers may think it's just a matter of luck that a driver is at their door in a matter of minutes.’
      • ‘We didn't have to wait too long though and got seated in a matter of ten minutes or so.’
      • ‘He was on his feet and out the door in a matter of seconds.’
      • ‘In a matter of seconds the door was off its hinges.’
      • ‘Police have condemned the youngsters involved in at least four incidents in a matter of weeks.’
      • ‘Whatever they decide their whole future will be decided in a matter of a couple of minutes.’
      • ‘It was getting towards sun down, and she reached her apartment in a matter of 25 minutes.’
      • ‘It only needs to take you a matter of minutes every month, but it will help us to literally change the world.’
      • ‘Then, if an unexpected caller knocks at the door, the resident is able to summon help in a matter of minutes.’
      • ‘The water is very cold and hypothermia can occur in a matter of minutes if exposed to the water.’
    • 2A thing that involves or depends on.

      ‘it's a matter of working out how to get something done’
      • ‘This is more than just a liberal cause, it is a matter of basic principle - and it involves us all.’
      • ‘The extent to which that strategy needed to be dependent on the computer is a matter of dispute.’
      • ‘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’
      • ‘They should just do this kind of work as a matter of course.’
      • ‘Sponsors want a return on their investment and visual awareness, through branding, is a matter of course.’
      • ‘Under the Hanoverians the heir to the throne supported opposition to his father's government almost as a matter of course.’
      • ‘It is so much an everyday sight that we take it as a matter of course.’
      • ‘It should be a matter of course for the medical profession to make the public aware of all their options and allow them to make their own decisions.’
      • ‘There is a flow and an intermingling, a cross-fertilisation, that takes place as a matter of course.’
      • ‘As a matter of course, we refer outstanding accounts to a debt collection agency and take legal action against bad debtors.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Incoming e-mail is scanned for viruses as a matter of course, but that didn't help with this problem.’
  • 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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This is not a matter of form but impinges on a fundamental principle of separation of powers and detracts from any necessary guarantee against the possibility of abuse.’
      • ‘First, the highly-detailed acreage and storage estimates were released 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.’
      • ‘The lessee would have a reasonable expectation that the consent is really only a matter of form by that stage.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It is not the appreciation, but the abuse of liberty, to withdraw altogether from the polls, or to visit them merely as a matter of form, without carefully investigating the merits of the candidates.’
      • ‘But, as a matter of form, they had to produce one.’
      • ‘In my judgment, it cannot be said that, as a matter of form, the Council have created a fetter upon their discretion.’
      • ‘As a matter of form, identical rent review provisions are contained in the underlease as in the lease.’
  • a matter of record

    • A thing that is established as a fact through being officially recorded.

      • ‘All of those statements are a matter of record which can be shown to the jury.’
      • ‘His significance has become a matter of record; his reputation is now beyond reproach.’
      • ‘As a matter of record, he died in 1997.’
      • ‘As a matter of record, New York City spends a higher portion of its budget on instruction and associated costs within the schools themselves than any of the other 100 largest districts in the nation.’
      • ‘All I know is that his vote is a matter of record and something for him to explain.’
      • ‘It is a matter of record that the Government has devised a long-term anti-corruption strategy and has committed itself to implementing it.’
      • ‘It is a matter of record that I had to send lawyer's letters before I could get access to some of the financial information.’
      • ‘The facts are a matter of record and any interested party can go to the library and pull out the newspapers of the day and they can acquaint themselves with those facts.’
      • ‘It's now a matter of record that the foundation had in fact been massively under-funded.’
      • ‘But everything up to the last assertion is a matter of record.’
  • no matter

    • 1[with clause]Regardless of.

      ‘no matter what the government calls them, they are cuts’
      • ‘She would never turn her back on me, no matter what I did, and it's the same for me.’
      • ‘These are all values and standards of note no matter who you are or what you believe!’
      • ‘It is important for women to be informed, no matter how much stress it may cause them.’
      • ‘Let us all pray that the justice system will pursue the truth no matter where it leads.’
      • ‘No matter how much she begs, no matter how much she pleads, it's just not going to happen.’
      • ‘No matter how many times they were said and no matter who said them, comments like that always stung.’
      • ‘The human spirit is basically the same no matter what area of the world you are in or come from.’
      • ‘You don't have to take every call at any time, no matter how important you may wish to look.’
      • ‘Unfortunately it's up to victims to stop them, no matter how long ago it happened.’
      • ‘No matter how bad it gets and no matter how much I pout, you always take my sadness as a real problem.’
    • 2It is of no importance.

      ‘“No matter, I'll go myself.”’
      • ‘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 makes no odds, it's unimportant, never mind, don't apologize, don't worry about it, don't mention it
      View synonyms
  • to make matters worse

    • With the result that a bad situation is made worse.

      • ‘And to make matters worse in my dream, I was sitting next to an old friend who absolutely refused to recognize me.’
      • ‘And to make matters worse, when I tried to get back in, the bouncer wouldn't let me because he said I was too drunk.’
      • ‘And to make matters worse, there may be a lengthy struggle to win redundancy cash for employees.’
      • ‘And to make matters worse, we live in a far more complex world today than we did 30 years ago.’
      • ‘And to make matters worse, when I got in there, he was standing there!’
      • ‘And to make matters worse, the bloody landlord won't turn on the heat.’
      • ‘And, to make matters worse, there is much misunderstanding concerning a few of these high arts and the accusation of being elitist.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, Monet was having difficulty selling his paintings and, to make matters worse, Camille was in need of almost constant care.’
      • ‘Then to make matters worse, we haven't had any television either.’
      • ‘And to make matters worse, footpaths that were flat prior to the commencement of the work are now angled and uneven.’
  • what matter?

    • 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.