1. The substance or substances out of which a thing is or can be made.
2. Something, such as an idea or information, that is to be refined and made or incorporated into a finished effort: material for a comedy.
3. materials Tools or apparatus for the performance of a given task: writing materials.
4. Yard goods or cloth.
5. A person who is qualified or suited for a position or activity: The members of the board felt that she was vice-presidential material.
1. Of, relating to, or composed of matter.
2. Of, relating to, or affecting physical well-being; bodily: "the moral and material welfare of all good citizens" (Theodore Roosevelt).
3. Of or concerned with the physical as distinct from the intellectual or spiritual: "Great men are they who see that spiritual is stronger than any material force, that thoughts rule the world" (Ralph Waldo Emerson).
4. Being both relevant and consequential; crucial: testimony material to the inquiry. See Synonyms at relevant.
5. Philosophy Of or relating to the matter of reasoning, rather than the form.
[Middle English, consisting of matter, material, from Old French, from Late Latin māteriālis, from Latin māteria, matter; see māter- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.