Matter signifies importance, significance, or relevancy. For example:
- We must focus on the things that matter the most to us.
- The article discussed the Black Lives Matter movement.
In the following idiomatic expression, matter connotes a deteriorating situation that is very important to the people involved:
- To make matters worse, the mayor raised our taxes. Now everyone will definitely be angry!
Other times, the meaning of matter depends on tone and intonation. Check out the following expressions:
- What is the matter? You seem really sad today.
- What is the matter with you?! You totally know better!!
If the entire phrase is read in the same manner, what’s the matter – or alternatively, is anything the matter – conveys concern. However if matter is stressed more strongly than the other words, what is the matter conveys disappointment.
But of course matter is also a scientific term related to atoms, volume and mass – here’s a refresher. In everyday conversation, scientific iterations of matter comes up frequently through the following compound words:
Plant and animal matter in various stages of decomposition. Could come up during discussions about the environment, recycling, or composting.
Matter that does not react to light the way ‘normal’ matter do. Could come up during discussions about space.