Etymology: Middle English materiel, from Middle French & Late Latin; Middle French, from Late Latin materialis, from Latin materia matter — more at matter
Date: 14th century
(1) relating to, derived from, or consisting of matter; especially physical <the material world> (2) bodily <material needs> b. (1) of or relating to matter rather than form <material cause> (2) of or relating to the subject matter of reasoning; especially empirical <material knowledge> 2. having real importance or great consequences <facts material to the investigation> 3. a. being of a physical or worldly nature b. relating to or concerned with physical rather than spiritual or intellectual things <material progress> • materially adverb • materialness noun Synonyms: material, physical, corporeal, phenomenal, sensible, objective mean of or belonging to actuality. material implies formation out of tangible matter; used in contrast with spiritual or ideal it may connote the mundane, crass, or grasping <material values>. physical applies to what is perceived directly by the senses and may contrast with mental, spiritual, or imaginary <the physical benefits of exercise>. corporeal implies having the tangible qualities of a body such as shape, size, or resistance to force <artists have portrayed angels as corporeal beings>. phenomenal applies to what is known or perceived through the senses rather than by intuition or rational deduction <scientists concerned with the phenomenal world>. sensible stresses the capability of readily or forcibly impressing the senses <the earth's rotation is not sensible to us>. objective may stress material or independent existence apart from a subject perceiving it <no objective evidence of damage>. Synonym: see in addition relevant. II. noun Date: 1556 1. a. (1) the elements, constituents, or substances of which something is composed or can be made (2) matter that has qualities which give it individuality and by which it may be categorized <sticky material> <explosive materials> b. (1) something (as data) that may be worked into a more finished form <material for a biography> (2) something used for or made the object of study <material for the next semester> (3) a performer's repertoire <a comedian's material> c. matter 3b d. cloth e. a person potentially suited to some pursuit <varsity material> <leadership material> 2. a. apparatus necessary for doing or making something <writing materials> b. materiel
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.