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loosely joined natural materials used as bedding, etc., Old English matte, from Late Latin matta "mat made of rushes" (4c.), probably from Punic or Phoenician matta (cf. Hebrew mittah "bed, couch"). Meaning "tangled mass" is from 1835. That of "piece of padded flooring used in gymnastics or wrestling" is attested from 1892; hence figurative phrase go to the mat "do battle" (1910). The Latin word also is the source of German Matte, matze; Dutch mat, Italian matta. French natte "mat, matting" is from Late Latin secondary form natta (cf. napkin).
"sheet of backing material," 1845, from French mat "dull surface or finish" (15c.), noun use of Old French mat (adj.); see mat (adj.).
1640s, "lusterless, dull" (of a color or surface), from French mat "dull, dead surface," from Old French mat "beaten down, withered, afflicted, dejected; dull," which is perhaps from Latin mattus "maudlin with drink," from madere "to be wet or sodden, be drunk," from PIE root *mad- "to be wet, drip" (see mast (n.2)). Or the French word might represent a transferred use from chess of mater "to checkmate, defeat," from Arabic (see mate (v.2)).
early 15c., "to make mats," from mat (n.1). From 1540s as "to provide with mats, to cover with mats;" meaning "to become tangled" is from 1570s. Related: Matted; matting.
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.