mat·ter [matter matters mattered mattering] noun, verb BrE [ˈmætə(r)]
NAmE [ˈmætər]
1. countable a subject or situation that you must consider or deal with
Syn: affair
It's a private matter.
They had important matters to discuss.
She may need your help with some business matters.
I always consulted him on matters of policy.
It's a matter for the police (= for them to deal with).
That's a matter for you to take up with your boss.
Let's get on with the matter in hand (= what we need to deal with now).
I wasn't prepared to let the matter drop (= stop discussing it).
It was no easy matter getting him to change his mind.
It should have been a simple matter to check.
(ironic) And then there's the little matter of the fifty pounds you owe me.
(formal) It was a matter of some concern to most of those present (= something they were worried about).
I did not feel that we had got to the heart of the matter (= the most important part).
And that is the crux of the matter (= the most important thing about the situation).
2. matters plural the present situation, or the situation that you are talking about
Syn: things
Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do to improve matters.
I'd forgotten the keys, which didn't help matters.
Matters were made worse by a fire in the warehouse.
And then, to make matters worse, his parents turned up.
I decided to take matters into my own hands (= deal with the situation myself).
Matters came to a head (= the situation became very difficult) with his resignation.  
3. the matter singular used (to ask) if sb is upset, unhappy, etc. or if there is a problem
What's the matter? Is there something wrong?
Is anything the matter.
~ with sb/sth Is something the matter with Bob? He seems very down.
There's something the matter with my eyes.
‘We've bought a new TV.’ ‘What was the matter with the old one?’
What's the matter with you today (= why are you behaving like this).
What on earth was the matter with her, she wondered. She'd come here to enjoy herself and here she was, stuck on her own in the hotel.  
4. singular a situation that involves sth or depends on sth
Syn: question
Learning to drive is all a matter of coordination.
Planning a project is just a matter of working out the right order to do things in.
That's not a problem. It's simply a matter of letting people know in time.
Some people prefer the older version to the new one. It's a matter of taste.
She resigned over a matter of principle.
The government must deal with this as a matter of urgency.
Just as a matter of interest (= because it is interesting, not because it is important), how much did you pay for it?
‘I think this is the best so far.’ ‘Well, that's a matter of opinion (= other people may think differently).  
5. uncountable (physics) physical substance in general that everything in the world consists of; not mind or spirit
to study the properties of matter
6. uncountable (formal) a substance or things of a particular sort
Add plenty of organic matter to improve the soil.
elimination of waste matter from the body
She didn't approve of their choice of reading matter.
see also subject matter
more at fact of the matter is (that)… at fact, be no laughing matter at laughing
Word Origin:
Middle English: via Old French from Latin materia ‘timber, substance’, also ‘subject of discourse’, from mater ‘mother’.
matter noun
1. C
We had important matters to discuss.
question • • issue • • concern • • subject
a/an matter/question/issue relating to/concerning sth
a key/major/serious/general matter/question/issue/concern/subject
a/an political/moral/technical matter/question/issue/concern/subject
raise/deal with/address/tackle/discuss/consider/examine/explore/focus on a/an matter/question/issue/concern/subject
Matter or question? In many cases you can use either word. However, a matter is often sth practical, whereas a question may be sth more philosophical.
2. sing. (especially spoken)
What's the matter?
problem • • difficulty • • issue|disapproving trouble
the matter/a problem/a difficulty/an issue/trouble with sth
Example Bank:
Do I have any choice in the matter?
Getting the effect you want is a matter of trial and error.
He left, saying he had pressing matters to attend to.
His articles deal with a wide range of subject matter.
His lawyer advised him to drop the matter.
I don't have much experience in these matters.
I don't mind lizards, but snakes are a different matter.
I don't really want to go into this matter now.
I thought I'd better broach the matter with my boss.
I wasn't sure how to approach the delicate matter of pay.
It didn't help matters that I had a terrible cold.
It is no simple matter starting a new business.
It is then a simple matter to print off the data you have collected.
It's a matter of concern to all of us.
It's a relief to have the matter settled.
Let me simplify matters by giving you my answer now.
Let's concentrate on the matter in hand for now, and leave other issues till later.
Police are treating the matter as a murder enquiry.
She always arranges matters to suit herself.
She refused to let the matter rest.
She was a great source of knowledge on matters relating to nutrition.
Speak to your manager if you need help on this matter.
The incident is definitely a matter for the police.
The matter will be raised at our next meeting.
The question of his innocence is a weighty matter for this court.
The rest of the meeting was taken up by routine matters.
The safety of his family was no laughing matter.
They talk mostly about work and related matters.
They've agreed in theory, but now we need to discuss practical matters.
To make matters worse, my friend then lost her keys.
We discussed the matter of whether or not to hire a bus.
composed entirely of organic matter
‘I think this is the best so far.’ ‘Well, that's a matter of opinion.
And that is the crux of the matter.
And then there's the little matter of the fifty pounds you owe me.
I did not feel that we had got to the heart of the matter.
I wasn't prepared to let the matter drop.
It's a private matter.
Just as a matter of interest, how much did you pay for it?
Let's get on with the matter in hand.
She didn't approve of their choice of reading matter.
She resigned over a matter of principle.
Some people prefer the older version to the newer one. It's a matter of taste.
That's a matter for you to take up with your boss.
That's not a problem. It's simply a matter of letting people know in time.
The behaviour of matter can be quantified by measures such as weight.
The government must deal with this as a matter of urgency.
The researchers found evidence of dark matter extending beyond the visible galaxies.
The soil is rich in organic matter.
There were small lumps of matter floating on the surface.
the elimination of waste matter from the body
Idioms: a different matter as a matter of fact for that matter it's just a matter of time matter of course matter of hours/minutes matter of inches/metres matter of life and death matter of record no matter no matter who/what/where
verb intransitive, transitive (not used in the progressive tenses)
to be important or have an important effect on sb/sth
~ (to sb) The children matter more to her than anything else in the world.
‘What did you say?’ ‘Oh, it doesn't matter’ (= it is not important enough to repeat).’
‘I'm afraid I forgot that book again.’ ‘It doesn't matter (= it is not important enough to worry about).’
What does it matter if I spent $100 on it— it's my money!
As long as you're happy, that's all that matters.
After his death, nothing seemed to matter any more.
He's been in prison, you know— not that it matters (= that information does not affect my opinion of him).
~ (to sb) who, what, etc… Does it really matter who did it?
It doesn't matter to me what you do.
~ (to sb) that… It didn't matter that the weather was bad.
Verb forms:
Word Origin:
Middle English: via Old French from Latin materia ‘timber, substance’, also ‘subject of discourse’, from mater ‘mother’.
Example Bank:
It didn't matter to her that he was blind.
It doesn't matter about the mess.
It doesn't matter one whit what their ethnic background is.
She could find a job. It hardly mattered what.
Somehow it didn't seem to matter much any more.
These things matter a lot to young children.

WordNet Dictionary:
1. a vaguely specified concern
- several matters to attend to
- it is none of your affair
- things are going well
Syn: affair, thing
2. some situation or event that is thought about
- he kept drifting off the topic
- he had been thinking about the subject for several years
- it is a matter for the police
Syn: topic, subject, issue
3. that which has mass and occupies space
- physicists study both the nature of matter and the forces which govern it
4. a problem
- is anything the matter?
5. (used with negation) having consequence
- they were friends and it was no matter who won the games
6. written works (especially in books or magazines)
- he always took some reading matter with him on the plane
have weight; have import, carry weight
- It does not matter much
Syn: count, weigh

Webster's 1913 Dictionary:
n.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 embodiment.
He is the matter of virtue.
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; substance.
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.
Son of God, Savior of men! Thy name
Shall be the copious matter of my song.
Every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge.
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.
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.
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.
I have thoughts to tarry a small matter.
No small matter of British forces were commanded over sea the year before.
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.
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 distribution.
Live matter
(Print.) type set up, but not yet printed from.
Matter in bar
See under Bar, and Fact.
Matter of record
anything recorded.
Upon the matter
considering the whole; taking all things into view; all things considered.
Waller, with Sir William Balfour, exceeded in horse, but were, upon the whole matter, equal in foot.
v. i.1.To be of importance; to import; to signify.
[imp. & p. p. Mattered ; p. pr. & vb. n. Mattering.]
It matters not how they were called.
2.To form pus or matter, as an abscess; to maturate.
v. t.1.To regard as important; to take account of; to care for.
He did not matter cold nor hunger.

Legal Dictionary:

MATTER. Some substantial or essential thing, opposed to form; facts.

MATTER, IMPERTINENT, Equity pleading. That which is altogether irrelevant to the case, that does not appertain or belong to it; id est, qui ad rem non pertinet. 4 Bouv. Inst. n. 4163. See Impertinent.

MATTER, SCANDALOUS, equity pleading. A false and malicious statement of facts, not relevant to the cause. But nothing which is positively relevant, however harsh or gross the charge may be, can be considered scandalous. 4 Bouv. Inst. n. 4163.
     2. A bill cannot by the general practice, be referred for impertinence after the defendant has answered, or submitted to answer, but it may be referred for scandal at any time, and even upon the application of a stranger to the suit, for he has the right to prevent the records of the court from being made the vehicle of spreading slanders against himself. Id. n. 41f 64.

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