1. Matter, material, stuff, substance refer to that of which physical objects are composed (though all these terms are also used abstractly). Matter, as distinct from mind and spirit, is a broad word that applies to anything perceived, or known to be occupying space: solid matter; gaseous matter. Material usually means some definite kind, quality, or quantity of matter, especially as intended for use: woolen material; a house built of good materials. Stuff, a less technical word, with approximately the same meanings as material, is characterized by being on an informal level when it refers to physical objects (Dynamite is queer stuff), and on a literary or poetic one when it is used abstractly (the stuff that dreams are made on). Substance is the matter that composes a thing, thought of in relation to its essential properties: a sticky substance.