Quiz: Remember the definition of mal de mer?


[mat] /mæt/
having a dull or lusterless surface:
matte paint; a matte complexion; a photograph with a matte finish.
a dull or dead surface, often slightly roughened, as on metals, paint, paper, or glass.
a tool for producing such a surface.
Metallurgy. an unfinished metallic product of the smelting of certain sulfide ores, especially those of copper.
Movies. matte shot.
verb (used with object), matted, matting.
to finish with a matte surface.
Also, mat, matt.
1640-50; < French mat (masculine), matte (feminine), Old French < Late Latin mattus moist, soft, weak, perhaps < *maditus, derivative of Latin madēre to be wet


[mat] /mæt/
noun, Mining.
a mass of timber caved beneath overburden so as to cushion the fall of the overburden and separate it from mineral to be extracted beneath.
< German; akin to mat1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for matte
  • To make the surface durable, apply matte varnish according to the manufacturer's instructions with a foam roller.
  • The right-hand part looks corrugated, with three alternating pairs of shallow matte ridges and grooves.
  • We watch an episode and build a list of ship shots, view screen shots and matte paintings.
  • The surface extends floor to ceiling, edge to edge and is slightly matte, so it can double as a projection surface.
  • The three tiles he showed me were: glossy cream, matte brown and matte tan.
  • Her glazed skin was an interesting tint, a matte greenish- gray.
  • There's a flypaper stickiness about them, too, though their usual surface is matte and dry.
  • It's also matte, so it has no greasy residue feeling.
  • Try a matte purple or blue for daytime and sparkly golds or reds for night.
  • Get up close to one of the demons and look at his skin: it gleams with a dull, matte, scaly sheen that's disturbingly lifelike.
British Dictionary definitions for matte


adjective, noun, verb
variant spellings of mat2 (sense 2), mat1 (sense 3), mat2 (sense 5)


an impure fused material consisting of metal sulphides produced during the smelting of a sulphide ore
Word Origin
C19: from French


(films, television) a mask used to blank out part of an image so that another image can be superimposed
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for matte

variant of mat (n.2).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for matte

crude mixture of molten sulfides formed as an intermediate product of the smelting of sulfide ores of metals, especially copper, nickel, and lead. Instead of being smelted directly to metal, copper ores are usually smelted to matte, preferably containing 40-45 percent copper along with iron and sulfur, which is then treated by converting in a Bessemer-type converter. Air is blown into the molten matte, oxidizing the sulfur to sulfur dioxide and the iron to oxide that combines with a silica flux to form slag, leaving the copper in the metallic state. Smelting of nickel sulfide ores yields a matte in which nickel and copper make up about 15 percent, iron about 50 percent, and sulfur the rest; the iron is removed in a converting furnace, and the sulfides of copper and nickel are separated before being reduced to the metals. Smelting of lead sulfide ores produces a liquid layer of copper sulfide matte that can be decanted, along with slag and speiss, from the lead bullion.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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