n. pl. ma·tri·ces (mātrĭ-sēz′, mătrĭ-) or ma·trix·es
1. A situation or surrounding substance within which something else originates, develops, or is contained: "Freedom of expression is the matrix, the indispensable condition, of nearly every form of freedom" (Benjamin N. Cardozo).
2. The womb.
a. The formative cells or tissue of a specialized structure such as a hair, nail, claw, or tooth.
b. See ground substance.
a. The solid matter in which a fossil or crystal is embedded.
5. A mold or die.
6. The principal metal in an alloy, as the iron in steel.
7. A binding substance, as cement in concrete.
a. Mathematics A rectangular array of numeric or algebraic quantities subject to mathematical operations.
b. Something resembling such an array, as in the regular formation of elements into columns and rows.
9. Computers The network of intersections between input and output leads in a computer, functioning as an encoder or a decoder.
a. A mold used in stereotyping and designed to receive positive impressions of type or illustrations from which metal plates can be cast. Also called mat2.
b. A metal plate used for casting typefaces.
11. An electroplated impression of a phonograph record used to make duplicate records.
[Middle English matrice, from Old French, from Late Latin mātrīx, mātrīc-, from Latin, breeding-animal, from māter, mātr-, mother; see māter- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 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.