American English

Definition of matter noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1[countable] a subject or situation that you must consider or deal with synonym 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 deal with the matter at 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 dollars 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 ever 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. 2matters [plural] the present situation, or the situation that you are talking about synonym thing Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do to improve matters. I'd forgotten the keys, which didn't help matters. 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. problem
  4. 3the matter [singular] used (to ask) if someone is upset, unhappy, etc. or if there is a problem What's the matter?Is there something wrong? Is anything the matter? matter with somebody/something Is something the matter with Bob? He seems very down. There's something the matter with my eyes. “We 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 by herself in the hotel.
  5. a matter of something/of doing something
  6. 4[singular] a situation that involves something or depends on something synonym 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 as a matter of principle. The health department has to 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).
  7. substance
  8. 5[uncountable] (technology) physical substance in general that everything in the world consists of; not mind or spirit to study the properties of matter
  9. 6[uncountable] 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
  10. Idioms
      as a matter of fact
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    1. 1used to add a comment on something that you have just said, usually adding something that you think the other person will be interested in It's a nice place. We've stayed there ourselves, as a matter of fact.
    2. 2used to disagree with something that someone has just said synonym actually “I suppose you'll be leaving soon, then?” “No, as a matter of fact I'll be staying for another two years.”
    be another/a different matter
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     to be very different I know which neighborhood they live in, but whether I can find their house is a different matter.
    be no laughing matter
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    to be something serious that you should not joke about
    the fact (of the matter) is (that)…
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     used to emphasize a statement, especially one that is the opposite of what has just been mentioned A new car would be wonderful, but the fact of the matter is that we can't afford one.
    for that matter
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    used to add a comment on something that you have just said I didn't like it much. Nor did the kids, for that matter.
    it's just/only a matter of time (before…)
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    used to say that something will definitely happen, although you are not sure when It's only a matter of time before they bring out their own version of the software.
    (as) a matter of course
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    (as) the usual and correct thing to do We always check people's addresses as a matter of course.
    a matter of hours, minutes, etc., a matter of inches, feet, etc.
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     only a few hours, minutes, etc. It was all over in a matter of minutes. The bullet missed her by a matter of inches.
    a matter of life and death
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    used to describe a situation that is very important or serious
    a matter of record (formal)
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    something that has been recorded as being true
    used to say that something is not important
    no matter who, what, where, etc.
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    used to say that something is always true, whatever the situation is, or that someone should certainly do something They don't last long no matter how careful you are. Call me when you get there, no matter what the time is.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: matter