matter


matter
matter n 1 Matter, substance, material, stuff are comparable when they mean what goes into the makeup or forms the being of a thing whether physical or not.
In the relevant sense matter basically denotes that of which all physical objects are made, but to the physical scientist this may imply the component of the observable universe that includes among its properties extension, inertia, and gravitation and is held to consist ultimately of relatively few kinds of elementary particles, to be convertible into energy, and together with energy to form the basis of objective phenomena
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but what is more common than matter? We and the universe about us are matter. We know nothing of force or energy, nor of any physical phenomenon, except through the agency of matterFoley

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matter is a form of energy and . . . presumably in nature processes go on in which matter is destroyed and transformed into more familiar forms of energy such as heat, radiation, and mechanical motion— E. O. Lawrence

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while to the philosopher it tends to imply an unordered material substratum distinguishable on the one hand from immaterial qualities (as spirit or energy) and on the other from form or formed bodies
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Aristotle defined the word matter figuratively and successfully when he said that matter is to substance what the bronze is to the statue— Richard Robinson

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it may be worth noting here the fundamentally opposed characters of Aristotle's matter and that of the new science. Aristotle's matter is the source of being, but not of intelligibility. To analyze an entity into its material components is to lose its essence. Modern science's matter, on the other hand, is the most intelligible of natural principles—W. D. Oliver

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In more general use matter often specifically applies to a particular portion or kind of physical matter
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strain the solid matter from the broth

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living matter

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Substance usually implies a particular kind of matter
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hard sub-stances

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and often one of known chemical or physical nature
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gaseous substances

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an object may be either a homogeneous mass of a single substance, such as water, or a combination or mixture of different substances, as for instance a cup of tea— Jeans

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or it may distinctively suggest the particular matter or kind of matter that enters into the composition of something or gives it its characteristic properties
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the substance of this vase is porcelain

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are we not all of the same substance—men, planets and earth, born from the heart of darkness, returning to darkness, the consoling mother— Sitwell

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Material applies basically to matter or substance as a constituent of physical and especially of made things
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a cake made from the best materials

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the material of this dress is silk

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the sculptor, who is limited to a few materials like stone, wood and metal— Ready

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But often it subordinates physical nature to the fact of being made and then may imply the idea of actuality or a basis in actuality rather than physical substance; thus, raw materials are usually physical substances capable of refinement or manufacture but they also may be events, ideas, or facts capable of further use (as in literary creation)
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adventures which would make good raw materials for several novels— J. H. Burton

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a region rich in coal, iron, and other raw materials

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is the whole creative effort of the artist an endeavor to form material so that it will be in actuality the authentic substance of a work of art?— Dewey

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Stuff may replace material or substance in reference to constituent materials or substances
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the house was built carelessly and of poor stuff

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creating out of raw material a skilled working class . . . they are the stuff of which The New Congo is made— Marvel

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but more often it refers to all the parts, parcels, objects, or items that make up an aggregate or a whole; in both cases it is likely to imply indeterminateness and suggest vaguely if at all the nature of the constituent materials or parts
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pick up the stuff you left on the table

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ambition should be made of sterner stuff—Shak.

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Sometimes, distinctively, stuff carries an inherent implication of inferiority
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not a line of the volume was ever included by Bryant in his later writings, and he spoke of the pamphlet with testy disgust as stuffNevins

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what was the psychological impulse behind the pedantic and elaborate stuff he called in the end Finnegans Wake? —Desmond MacCarthy

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2 *affair, business, concern, thing
3 *subject, subject matter, argument, topic, text, theme, motive, motif, leitmotiv

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Matter — • Taking the term in its widest sense, matter signifies that out of which anything is made or composed Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Matter     Matter      …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • matter — mat·ter n 1: a subject of consideration, disagreement, or litigation: as a: a legal case, dispute, or issue a matter within the court s jurisdiction often used in titles of legal proceedings matter of Doe see also in re b …   Law dictionary

  • Matter — Mat ter, n. [OE. matere, F. mati[ e]re, fr. L. materia; perh. akin to L. mater mother. Cf. {Mother}, {Madeira}, {Material}.] 1. That of which anything is composed; constituent substance; material; the material or substantial part of anything; the …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • matter — [mat′ər] n. [ME matiere < OFr < L materia, material, stuff, wood (< base of mater, MOTHER1), orig., the growing trunk of a tree] 1. what a thing is made of; constituent substance or material 2. what all (material) things are made of;… …   English World dictionary

  • matter — ► NOUN 1) physical substance or material in general, as distinct from mind and spirit; (in physics) that which occupies space and possesses mass. 2) an affair or situation under consideration; a topic. 3) (the matter) the reason for a problem. 4) …   English terms dictionary

  • Matter — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Bernhard Matter (1821–1854), Schweizer Krimineller, erwähnt in einem Lied von Mani Matter Franz Matter (1931–1999), Schweizer Schauspieler und Regisseur Herbert Matter (1907–1984), Schweizer Fotograf und… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • matter — [n1] substance amount, being, body, constituents, corporeality, corporeity, element, entity, individual, material, materialness, object, phenomenon, physical world, protoplasm, quantity, stuff, substantiality, sum, thing; concepts 407,433,470 Ant …   New thesaurus

  • Matter — Mat ter, v. i. [imp. & p. p. {Mattered}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Mattering}.] 1. To be of importance; to import; to signify. [1913 Webster] It matters not how they were called. Locke. [1913 Webster] 2. To form pus or matter, as an abscess; to maturate.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Matter — Mat ter, v. t. To regard as important; to take account of; to care for. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] He did not matter cold nor hunger. H. Brooke. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Matter — Matter, Jacques, geb. 1791 zu Alteckendorf im Elsaß, wurde 1819 Professor der Geschichte in Strasburg, 1821 Gymnasialdirector u. Professor der Geschichte an der dortigen protestantischen Akademie, 1831 Inspector der Akademie u. 1832… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon


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