go to the mat


1 [mat]
a piece of fabric made of plaited or woven rushes, straw, hemp, or similar fiber, or of some other pliant material, as rubber, used as a protective covering on a floor or other surface, to wipe the shoes on, etc.
a smaller piece of material, often ornamental, set under a dish of food, a lamp, vase, etc.
the padded canvas covering the entire floor of a wrestling ring, for protecting the contestants from injury when thrown.
a thick pad placed on the floor for the protection of tumblers and others engaged in gymnastic sports.
a thickly growing or thick and tangled mass, as of hair or weeds.
a sack made of matting, as for coffee or sugar.
a slablike footing of concrete, especially one for an entire building.
a heavy mesh reinforcement for a concrete slab.
verb (used with object), matted, matting.
to cover with or as if with mats or matting.
to form into a mat, as by interweaving.
verb (used without object), matted, matting.
to become entangled; form tangled masses.
go to the mat, to contend or struggle in a determined or unyielding way: The president is going to the mat with Congress over the proposed budget cuts.

before 900; Middle English, Old English matte < Late Latin matta mat of rushes < Semitic; compare Hebrew mittāh bed

matless, adjective
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World English Dictionary
mat1 (mæt)
1.  a thick flat piece of fabric used as a floor covering, a place to wipe one's shoes, etc
2.  a smaller pad of material used to protect a surface from the heat, scratches, etc, of an object placed upon it
3.  a large piece of thick padded material put on the floor as a surface for wrestling, judo, or gymnastic sports
4.  (NZ) a Māori cloak
5.  (NZ) go back to the mat to abandon urban civilization
6.  any surface or mass that is densely interwoven or tangled: a mat of grass and weeds
7.  the solid part of a lace design
8.  a.  a heavy net of cable or rope laid over a blasting site to prevent the scatter of debris
 b.  a heavy mesh of reinforcement in a concrete slab
 c.  (esp US) a steel or concrete raft serving as a footing to support a post
9.  civil engineering short for mattress
vb , mats, matting, matted
10.  to tangle or weave or become tangled or woven into a dense mass
11.  (tr) to cover with a mat or mats
[Old English matte; related to Old High German matta]

mat2 (mæt)
1.  a border of cardboard, cloth, etc, placed around a picture to act as a frame or as a contrast between picture and frame
2.  a surface, as on metal or paint
3.  having a dull, lustreless, or roughened surface
vb , mats, matting, matted
4.  to furnish (a picture) with a mat
5.  to give (a surface) a mat finish
[C17: from French, literally: dead; see checkmate]

mat3 (mæt)
informal printing short for matrix

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. matte, from L.L. matta "mat made of rushes" (4c.), probably from Punic or Phoenician (cf. Heb. mittah "bed, couch"). Meaning "piece of padded flooring used in gymnastics or wrestling" is attested from 1903.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Abbreviations & Acronyms
Master of Arts in Teaching
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

go to the mat

Fight until one side or another is victorious, as in The governor said he'd go to the mat for this bill. This term comes from wrestling and evokes the holding of an opponent when both contestants are down on the mat, the padded floor-covering used in matches. It has been used figuratively since about 1900.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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