The term “matter” comes from the Latin word “materia,” which means “substance” or “material.” Here’s a detailed chronological breakdown:

1. Proto-Indo-European (PIE)

The PIE root “meh₂-” means “to measure” or “to cut” and is also associated with “māter” meaning “mother,” reflecting the concept of the source or substance from which something is made.

2. Latin

From the PIE root, the Latin word “materia” developed, meaning “substance,” “material,” or “matter,” and was also related to “mater” meaning “mother,” indicating the basic substance from which things are created.

3. Old French (c. 9th to 14th century CE)

The Latin term “materia” evolved into Old French “matiere,” retaining the meanings of “substance” or “material.”

4. Middle English (c. 11th to 15th century CE)

The Old French “matiere” was adopted into Middle English as “matere,” meaning “physical substance” or “material.”

5. Modern English (from 15th century CE to present)

The term “matter” evolved into its current form and pronunciation, referring to the physical substance that occupies space and possesses mass. In broader contexts, it can also refer to a subject or topic under consideration.

The word “matter” reflects the fundamental concept of physical substance in the universe, encompassing everything that has mass and occupies space. It is a core term in fields such as physics, chemistry, and philosophy, signifying the basic components of the material world.