The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Matter \Mat"ter\, n. [OE. matere, F. mati[`e]re, fr. L. materia;
perh. akin to L. mater mother. Cf. Mother, Madeira,
1. That of which anything is composed; constituent substance;
material; the material or substantial part of anything;
the constituent elements of conception; that into which a
notion may be analyzed; the essence; the pith; the
He is the matter of virtue. --B. Jonson.
2. That of which the sensible universe and all existent
bodies are composed; anything which has extension,
occupies space, or is perceptible by the senses; body;
Note: Matter is usually divided by philosophical writers into
three kinds or classes: solid, liquid, and gaseous.
Solid substances are those whose parts firmly cohere
and resist impression, as wood or stone. Liquids have
free motion among their parts, and easily yield to
impression, as water and wine. Gaseous substances are
elastic fluids, called vapors and gases, as air and
3. That with regard to, or about which, anything takes place
or is done; the thing aimed at, treated of, or treated;
subject of action, discussion, consideration, feeling,
complaint, legal action, or the like; theme. "If the
matter should be tried by duel." --Bacon.
Son of God, Savior of men! Thy name
Shall be the copious matter of my song. --Milton.
Every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but
every small matter they shall judge. --Ex. xviii.
4. That which one has to treat, or with which one has to do;
concern; affair; business.
To help the matter, the alchemists call in many
vanities out of astrology. --Bacon.
Some young female seems to have carried matters so
far, that she is ripe for asking advice.
5. Affair worthy of account; thing of consequence;
importance; significance; moment; -- chiefly in the
phrases what matter? no matter, and the like.
A prophet some, and some a poet, cry;
No matter which, so neither of them lie. --Dryden.
6. Inducing cause or occasion, especially of anything
disagreeable or distressing; difficulty; trouble.
And this is the matter why interpreters upon that
passage in Hosea will not consent it to be a true
story, that the prophet took a harlot to wife.
7. Amount; quantity; portion; space; -- often indefinite.
Away he goes, . . . a matter of seven miles. --L'
I have thoughts to tarry a small matter. --Congreve.
No small matter of British forces were commanded
over sea the year before. --Milton.
8. Substance excreted from living animal bodies; that which
is thrown out or discharged in a tumor, boil, or abscess;
pus; purulent substance.
9. (Metaph.) That which is permanent, or is supposed to be
given, and in or upon which changes are effected by
psychological or physical processes and relations; --
opposed to form. --Mansel.
10. (Print.) Written manuscript, or anything to be set in
type; copy; also, type set up and ready to be used, or
which has been used, in printing.
Dead matter (Print.), type which has been used, or which is
not to be used, in printing, and is ready for
Live matter (Print.), type set up, but not yet printed
Matter in bar, Matter of fact. See under Bar, and
Matter of record, anything recorded.
Upon the matter, or Upon the whole matter, considering
the whole; taking all things into view; all things
Waller, with Sir William Balfour, exceeded in horse,
but were, upon the whole matter, equal in foot.