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American Dictionary of the English Language

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Matter


MAT'TER, noun [Latin materia; Heb. to measure; Latin metior.]

1. Substance excreted from living animal bodies; that which is thrown our of discharged in a tumor, boil or abscess; pus; purulent substance collected in an abscess, the effect of suppuration more or less perfect; as digested matter; sanious matter

2. Body; substance extended; that which is visible or tangible; as earth, wood, stone, air, vapor, water.

3. In a more general and philosophic sense, the substance of which all bodies are composed; the substratum of sensible qualities, though the parts composing the substratum may not be visible or tangible.

Matter is usually divided by philosophical writers into four kinds or classes; solid, liquid; aeriform, and imponderable. 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. Aeriform substances are elastic fluids, called vapors and gases, as air and oxygen gas. The imponderable substances are destitute of weight, as light, caloric, electricity, and magnetism.

4. Subject; thing treated; that about which we write or speak; that which employs thought or excites emotion; as, this is matter of praise, of gratitude, or of astonishment.

Son of God, Savior of men, thy name

Shall be the copious matter of my song.

5. The very thing supposed or intended.

He grants the deluge to have come so very near the matter that few escaped.

6. Affair; business; event; thing; course of things. Matters have succeeded well thus far; observe how matters stand; thus the matter rests at present; thus the matter ended.

To help the matter the alchimists call in many vanities from astrology.

Some young female seems to have carried matters so far, that she is ripe for asking advice.

7. Cause of any event, as of any disturbance, of a disease, or of a difficulty. When a moving machine stops suddenly, we ask, what is the matter? When a person is ill, we ask, what is the matter? When a tumult or quarrel takes place, we ask, what is the matter?

8. Subject of complaint; suit; demand.

If the matter should be tried by duel between two champions--

Every great matter they shall bring to thee, but every small matter they shall judge-- Exodus 18:16.

9. Import; consequence; importance; moment.

A prophet some, and some a poet cry,

No matter which, so neither of them lie.

10. Space of time; a portion of distance.

I have thoughts to tarry a small matter

Away he goes, a matter of seven miles--

[In these last senses, the use of matter is now vulgar.]

Upon the matter considering the whole; taking all things into view. This phrase is now obsolete; but in lieu of it, we sometimes use, upon the whole matter

Waller, with Sir William Balfour, exceeded in horse, but were, upon the whole matter equal in foot.

Matter of record, that which is recorded, or which may be proved by record.

MAT'TER, verb intransitive To be of importance; to import; used with it, this, that, or what. This matters not; that matters not; chiefly used in negative phrases; as, what matters it?

It matters not how they are called, so we know who they are.

1. To maturate; to form pus; to collect, as matter in an abscess.

Each slight sore mattereth. [Little used.]

[We now use maturate.]

MAT'TER, verb transitive To regard. [Not used.]