matter

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See also: Matter and måtter

English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English matere, mater, from Anglo-Norman matere, materie, from Old French materie, matiere, from Latin materia (matter, stuff, material), from mater (mother). Doublet of Madeira and mother.

The word displaced the native Middle English andweorc, andwork (material, matter), from Old English andweorc (matter, substance, material)), Old English intinga (matter, affair, business).

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

matter (countable and uncountable, plural matters)

  1. (uncountable) Material, substance.
    1. (physics) The basic structural component of the universe. Matter usually has mass and volume.
    2. (physics) Matter made up of normal particles, not antiparticles.
      Antonym: antimatter
    3. A kind of substance.
      vegetable matter
    4. Printed material, especially in books or magazines.
      He always took some reading matter with him on the plane.
    5. (philosophy) Aristotelian: undeveloped potentiality subject to change and development; formlessness. Matter receives form, and becomes substance.
  2. An affair, condition, or subject, especially one of concern or (especially when preceded by the) one that is problematic.
    Is much the matter with the old plan?
    Something is the matter with him.
    state matters
    • 1597, Francis [Bacon], “Of the Colours of Good and Evill, a Fragment”, in The Essayes [], 3rd edition, London: [] Iohn Haviland [], published 1632, OCLC 863527675:
      So in many armies, if the matter ſhould bee tried by duell betvvene tvvo Champions, the victory ſhould goe on the one ſide, & yet if it be tried by the groſſe, it vvould goe on the other ſide: for excellencies goe as it vvere by chance, but kinds goe by a more certaine Nature, as by Diſcipline in vvarre.
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book III”, in Paradise Lost. A Poem Written in Ten Books, London: [] [Samuel Simmons], [], OCLC 228722708; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, OCLC 230729554:
      Son of God, Saviour of men! Thy name / Shall be the copious matter of my song.
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], OCLC 964384981, Exodus xviii:22:
      Every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge.
    • 1897 December (indicated as 1898), Winston Churchill, chapter VIII, in The Celebrity: An Episode, New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company; London: Macmillan & Co., Ltd., OCLC 222716698:
      The humor of my proposition appealed more strongly to Miss Trevor than I had looked for, and from that time forward she became her old self again; [] . Now she had come to look upon the matter in its true proportions, and her anticipation of a possible chance of teaching him a lesson was a pleasure to behold.
    • 12 July 2012, Sam Adams, AV Club Ice Age: Continental Drift
      The matter of whether the world needs a fourth Ice Age movie pales beside the question of why there were three before it, but Continental Drift feels less like an extension of a theatrical franchise than an episode of a middling TV cartoon, lolling around on territory that’s already been settled.
  3. An approximate amount or extent.
    I stayed for a matter of months.
  4. (obsolete) The essence; the pith; the embodiment.
  5. (obsolete) Inducing cause or reason, especially of anything disagreeable or distressing.
  6. (dated, medicine) Pus.

Usage notes[edit]

  • As regards sense 2 (“an affair, condition, or subject, especially one of concern or one that is problematic”), the phrase the matter can in most cases be replaced by the adjective wrong. Thus, a phrase like “there is nothing the matter” can be reworded as “there is nothing wrong”.

Synonyms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Verb[edit]

matter (third-person singular simple present matters, present participle mattering, simple past and past participle mattered)

  1. (intransitive) To be important. [from 16th c.]
    The only thing that matters to Jim is being rich.
    Sorry for pouring ketchup on your clean white shirt! - Oh, don't worry, it does not matter.
    • 1915, G[eorge] A. Birmingham [pseudonym; James Owen Hannay], chapter I, in Gossamer, New York, N.Y.: George H. Doran Company, OCLC 5661828:
      As a political system democracy seems to me extraordinarily foolish, []. My servant is, so far as I am concerned, welcome to as many votes as he can get. [] I do not suppose that it matters much in reality whether laws are made by dukes or cornerboys, but I like, as far as possible, to associate with gentlemen in private life.
    • 2011 April 10, Alistair Magowan, “Aston Villa 1-0 Newcastle”, in BBC Sport:
      Despite further attempts by Agbonlahor and Young, however, they could not find the goal to reward their endeavour.
      It mattered little as Newcastle's challenge faded and Villa began to dominate the game in midfield, and it was only Barton's continued sense of injustice that offered the visitors any spark in a tame contest.
  2. (transitive, in negative constructions, now England regional, Caribbean) To care about, to mind; to find important. [from 17th c.]
  3. (intransitive, medicine, archaic) To form pus or matter, as an abscess; to maturate.

Derived terms[edit]

Synonyms[edit]

Translations[edit]

Further reading[edit]


French[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

Verb[edit]

matter

  1. Alternative spelling of mater

Conjugation[edit]

Anagrams[edit]


German[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

Adjective[edit]

matter

  1. comparative degree of matt
  2. inflection of matt:
    1. strong/mixed nominative masculine singular
    2. strong genitive/dative feminine singular
    3. strong genitive plural

Middle French[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Verb[edit]

matter

  1. to checkmate

Conjugation[edit]

  • Middle French conjugation varies from one text to another. Hence, the following conjugation should be considered as typical, not as exhaustive.

Norwegian Bokmål[edit]

Noun[edit]

matter m pl or f pl

  1. indefinite plural of matte (Etymology 1)

Norwegian Nynorsk[edit]

Noun[edit]

matter f pl

  1. indefinite plural of matte (Etymology 1)