# Mass vs. Matter — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman & Urooj Arif — Updated on April 18, 2024
Mass is a property that quantifies the amount of matter in an object, reflecting its resistance to acceleration and gravitational attraction, whereas matter is any substance that occupies space and has mass.

## Key Differences

Mass is a specific property measured in units such as kilograms or pounds, indicating how much matter is present in an object and how that object will react under various forces, such as gravity. Matter, on the other hand, refers to all physical substances that make up the universe, encompassing solids, liquids, gases, and plasma.
The concept of mass is integral to physics, particularly in understanding the fundamental principles of mechanics and gravitation. Matter encompasses a broader category in science, essential for discussing anything that has physical existence and occupies space.
Mass remains constant regardless of an object's position, composition, or shape. However, the state or type of matter can change (e.g., from solid to liquid) without affecting the mass of a system, demonstrating that mass and matter are linked yet distinct properties.
When discussing the interaction of objects, mass is a key factor in calculations involving weight, momentum, and kinetic energy. Matter is more about the composition and physical properties of a substance, such as its density, elasticity, and thermal conductivity.
In the universe, all matter has mass, but the converse is not always straightforward, as mass can exist in forms that are not traditionally considered matter, like certain forms of energy according to the theory of relativity.

## Comparison Chart

### Definition

A measure of the amount of matter in an object, indicating its resistance to acceleration and gravitational influence.
Any substance that occupies space and has mass.

### Measurement

Quantified in units like kilograms or pounds.
Not measured directly; described by its mass and volume.

### Constancy

Constant regardless of location or condition.
Can change state (e.g., solid, liquid, gas) while mass remains constant.

### Role in Physics

Fundamental in mechanics and gravity calculations.
Fundamental in discussions of physical existence and properties.

### Examples

The mass of a planet, an electron, or a star.
Water, air, metals, and gases are all forms of matter.

## Compare with Definitions

#### Mass

Measured using scales or through gravitational interaction.
Scientists measure mass using balances and scales.

#### Matter

The building block of the universe.
Stars, planets, and living organisms are all made of matter.

#### Mass

A property of physical bodies that quantifies the amount of matter.
The mass of the Earth influences the gravity it exerts.

#### Matter

Studied in chemistry and physics to understand its properties and transformations.
Chemists study how matter reacts and changes during chemical reactions.

#### Mass

Invariant and conserved in closed systems.
The mass of a closed system remains constant despite changes in its state.

#### Matter

Comprises various states including solids, liquids, gases, and plasma.
Water is matter that can exist in three different states.

#### Mass

Influences gravitational force and weight.
An object’s mass determines its weight on different planets.

#### Matter

Can undergo physical and chemical changes.
Burning wood is a chemical change where matter transforms from wood to ash and gases.

#### Mass

Integral to formulas in physics like F=ma (Force = mass x acceleration).
Calculating the force needed to accelerate an object requires knowledge of its mass.

#### Matter

Anything that has mass and occupies space.
Everything visible around us is composed of matter.

#### Mass

Mass is both a property of a physical body and a measure of its resistance to acceleration (rate of change of velocity with respect to time) when a net force is applied. An object's mass also determines the strength of its gravitational attraction to other bodies.

#### Matter

In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touched are ultimately composed of atoms, which are made up of interacting subatomic particles, and in everyday as well as scientific usage, "matter" generally includes atoms and anything made up of them, and any particles (or combination of particles) that act as if they have both rest mass and volume.

#### Mass

The celebration of the Christian Eucharist, especially in the Roman Catholic Church
We went to Mass

#### Matter

Physical substance in general, as distinct from mind and spirit; (in physics) that which occupies space and possesses rest mass, especially as distinct from energy
The structure and properties of matter

#### Mass

Involving or affecting large numbers of people or things
A mass exodus of refugees
The film has mass appeal

#### Matter

A subject or situation under consideration
Financial matters
A great deal of work was done on this matter

#### Mass

Assemble or cause to assemble into a single body or mass
Both countries began massing troops in the region
Clouds massed heavily on the horizon

#### Matter

The reason for distress or a problem
What's the matter?

#### Mass

Public celebration of the Eucharist in the Roman Catholic Church and some Protestant churches.

#### Matter

The substance or content of a text as distinct from its style or form.

#### Mass

The sacrament of the Eucharist.

#### Matter

Be important or significant
It doesn't matter what the guests wear
What did it matter to them?

#### Mass

A musical setting of certain parts of the Mass, especially the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei.

#### Matter

(of a wound) secrete or discharge pus.

#### Mass

A unified body of matter with no specific shape
A mass of clay.

#### Matter

That which occupies space and has mass; physical substance.

#### Mass

A grouping of individual parts or elements that compose a unified body of unspecified size or quantity
"Take mankind in mass, and for the most part, they seem a mob of unnecessary duplicates" (Herman Melville).

#### Matter

A type of such substance
Organic matter.

#### Mass

A large but nonspecific amount or number
A mass of bruises.

#### Matter

Discharge or waste, such as pus or feces, from a living organism.

#### Mass

A lump or aggregate of coherent material
A cancerous mass.

#### Matter

(Philosophy) In Aristotelian and Scholastic use, that which is in itself undifferentiated and formless and which, as the subject of change and development, receives form and becomes substance.

#### Mass

The principal part; the majority
The mass of the continent.

#### Matter

The substance of thought or expression as opposed to the manner in which it is stated or conveyed.

#### Mass

The physical volume or bulk of a solid body.

#### Matter

A subject of concern, feeling, or action
Matters of foreign policy.
A personal matter.

#### Mass

Abbr. m(Physics) A property of matter equal to the measure of the amount of matter contained in or constituting a physical body that partly determines the body's resistance to changes in the speed or direction of its motion. The mass of an object is not dependent on gravity and therefore is different from but proportional to its weight.

#### Matter

Trouble or difficulty
What's the matter with your car?.

#### Mass

An area of unified light, shade, or color in a painting.

#### Matter

An approximated quantity, amount, or extent
The construction will last a matter of years.

#### Mass

(Pharmacology) A thick, pasty mixture containing drugs from which pills are formed.

#### Matter

Something printed or otherwise set down in writing

#### Mass

Masses The body of common people or people of low socioeconomic status

#### Matter

To be of importance
"Love is most nearly itself / When here and now cease to matter" (T.S. Eliot).

#### Mass

To gather or be gathered into a mass.

#### Matter

(uncountable) Material; substance.

#### Mass

Of, relating to, characteristic of, directed at, or attended by a large number of people
Mass education.
Mass communication.

#### Matter

(physics) The basic structural component of the universe, usually having mass and volume.

#### Mass

Done or carried out on a large scale
Mass production.

#### Matter

(physics) Matter made up of normal particles, not antiparticles.

#### Mass

Total; complete
The mass result is impressive.

#### Matter

A kind of substance.
Vegetable matter

#### Mass

(physical) Matter, material.

#### Matter

Material, especially in books or magazines.
He always took some reading matter with him on the plane.

#### Mass

A quantity of matter cohering together so as to make one body, or an aggregation of particles or things which collectively make one body or quantity, usually of considerable size.

#### Matter

(philosophy) Aristotelian: undeveloped potentiality subject to change and development; formlessness. Matter receives form, and becomes substance.

#### Mass

(obsolete) Precious metal, especially gold or silver.

#### Matter

An affair, condition, or subject, especially one of concern or (especially when preceded by the) one that is problematic.
Is much the matter with the old plan?
Something is the matter with him.
State matters

#### Mass

(physics) The quantity of matter which a body contains, irrespective of its bulk or volume. It is one of four fundamental properties of matter. SI unit of mass: kilogram.

#### Matter

An approximate amount or extent.
I stayed for a matter of months.

#### Mass

(pharmaceutical drug) A medicinal substance made into a cohesive, homogeneous lump, of consistency suitable for making pills; as, blue mass.

#### Matter

(obsolete) essence; pith; embodiment.

#### Mass

(medicine) A palpable or visible abnormal globular structure; a tumor.

#### Matter

(obsolete) (The) inducing cause or reason, especially of anything disagreeable or distressing.

#### Mass

(bodybuilding) Excess body weight, especially in the form of muscle hypertrophy.

#### Matter

To be important.
The only thing that matters to Jim is being rich.
Sorry for pouring ketchup on your clean white shirt! - Oh, don't worry, it does not matter.

#### Mass

(proscribed) weight

#### Matter

To care about, to mind; to find important.

#### Mass

A large quantity; a sum.

#### Matter

To form pus or matter, as an abscess; to maturate.

#### Mass

Bulk; magnitude; body; size.

#### Matter

That of which anything is composed; constituent substance; material; the material or substantial part of anything; the constituent elements of conception; that into which a notion may be analyzed; the essence; the pith; the embodiment.
He is the matter of virtue.

#### Mass

The principal part; the main body.

#### Matter

That of which the sensible universe and all existent bodies are composed; anything which has extension, occupies space, or is perceptible by the senses; body; substance.

#### Mass

A large body of individuals, especially persons.
The mass of spectators didn't see the infraction on the field.
A mass of ships converged on the beaches of Dunkirk.

#### Matter

That with regard to, or about which, anything takes place or is done; the thing aimed at, treated of, or treated; subject of action, discussion, consideration, feeling, complaint, legal action, or the like; theme.
Son of God, Savior of men! Thy nameShall be the copious matter of my song.
Every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge.

#### Mass

(in the plural) The lower classes of persons.
The masses are revolting.

#### Matter

That which one has to treat, or with which one has to do; concern; affair; business.
To help the matter, the alchemists call in many vanities out of astrology.
Some young female seems to have carried matters so far, that she is ripe for asking advice.

#### Mass

(Christianity) The Eucharist, now especially in Roman Catholicism.

#### Matter

Affair worthy of account; thing of consequence; importance; significance; moment; - chiefly in the phrases what matter? no matter, and the like.
A prophet some, and some a poet, cry;No matter which, so neither of them lie.

#### Mass

(Christianity) Celebration of the Eucharist.

#### Matter

Inducing cause or occasion, especially of anything disagreeable or distressing; difficulty; trouble.
And this is the matter why interpreters upon that passage in Hosea will not consent it to be a true story, that the prophet took a harlot to wife.

#### Mass

The sacrament of the Eucharist.

#### Matter

Amount; quantity; portion; space; - often indefinite.
Away he goes, . . . a matter of seven miles.
I have thoughts to tarry a small matter.
No small matter of British forces were commanded over sea the year before.

#### Mass

A musical setting of parts of the mass.

#### Matter

Substance excreted from living animal bodies; that which is thrown out or discharged in a tumor, boil, or abscess; pus; purulent substance.

#### Mass

(transitive) To form or collect into a mass; to form into a collective body; to bring together into masses; to assemble.

#### Matter

That which is permanent, or is supposed to be given, and in or upon which changes are effected by psychological or physical processes and relations; - opposed to form.

#### Mass

(intransitive) To assemble in a mass

#### Matter

Written manuscript, or anything to be set in type; copy; also, type set up and ready to be used, or which has been used, in printing.
Waller, with Sir William Balfour, exceeded in horse, but were, upon the whole matter, equal in foot.

#### Mass

To celebrate mass.

#### Matter

To be of importance; to import; to signify.
It matters not how they were called.

#### Mass

Involving a mass of things; concerning a large quantity or number.
There is evidence of mass extinctions in the distant past.

#### Matter

To form pus or matter, as an abscess; to maturate.

#### Mass

Involving a mass of people; of, for, or by the masses.
Mass unemployment resulted from the financial collapse.

#### Matter

To regard as important; to take account of; to care for.
He did not matter cold nor hunger.

#### Mass

The sacrifice in the sacrament of the Eucharist, or the consecration and oblation of the host.

#### Matter

That which has mass and occupies space;
An atom is the smallest indivisible unit of matter

#### Mass

The portions of the Mass usually set to music, considered as a musical composition; - namely, the Kyrie, the Gloria, the Credo, the Sanctus, and the Agnus Dei, besides sometimes an Offertory and the Benedictus.

#### Matter

A vaguely specified concern;
Several matters to attend to
It is none of your affair
Things are going well

#### Mass

A quantity of matter cohering together so as to make one body, or an aggregation of particles or things which collectively make one body or quantity, usually of considerable size; as, a mass of ore, metal, sand, or water.
If it were not for these principles, the bodies of the earth, planets, comets, sun, and all things in them, would grow cold and freeze, and become inactive masses.
A deep mass of continual sea is slower stirredTo rage.

#### Matter

Some situation or event that is thought about;
He kept drifting off the topic
It is a matter for the police

#### Mass

A medicinal substance made into a cohesive, homogeneous lump, of consistency suitable for making pills; as, blue mass.

#### Matter

A problem;
Is anything the matter?

#### Mass

A large quantity; a sum.
All the mass of gold that comes into Spain.
He had spent a huge mass of treasure.

#### Matter

(used with negation) having consequence;
They were friends and it was no matter who won the games

#### Mass

Bulk; magnitude; body; size.
This army of such mass and charge.

#### Matter

Written works (especially in books or magazines);
He always took some reading matter with him on the plane

#### Mass

The principal part; the main body.
Night closed upon the pursuit, and aided the mass of the fugitives in their escape.

#### Matter

Have weight; have import, carry weight;
It does not matter much

#### Mass

The quantity of matter which a body contains, irrespective of its bulk or volume.

#### Mass

To celebrate Mass.

#### Mass

To form or collect into a mass; to form into a collective body; to bring together into masses; to assemble.
But mass them together and they are terrible indeed.

#### Mass

The property of a body that causes it to have weight in a gravitational field

#### Mass

(often followed by `of') a large number or amount or extent;
A batch of letters
A deal of trouble
A lot of money
He made a mint on the stock market
It must have cost plenty

#### Mass

An ill-structured collection of similar things (objects or people)

#### Mass

(Roman Catholic Church and Protestant Churches) the celebration of the Eucharist

#### Mass

A body of matter without definite shape;
A huge ice mass

#### Mass

The common people generally;
Separate the warriors from the mass
Power to the people

#### Mass

The property of something that is great in magnitude;
It is cheaper to buy it in bulk
He received a mass of correspondence
The volume of exports

#### Mass

A musical setting for a Mass;
They played a Mass composed by Beethoven

#### Mass

A sequence of prayers constituting the Christian eucharistic rite;
The priest said Mass

#### Mass

Join together into a mass or collect or form a mass;
Crowds were massing outside the palace

#### Mass

Occurring widely (as to many people);
Mass destruction

#### Mass

Gathered or tending to gather into a mass or whole;
Aggregate expenses include expenses of all divisions combined for the entire year
The aggregated amount of indebtedness

## Common Curiosities

#### Does all matter have mass?

Yes, all matter has mass, which is one of its defining properties.

#### What is mass?

Mass is a measure of the amount of matter in an object, important for understanding its physical properties and behavior under forces.

#### Can mass exist without matter?

In theoretical physics, mass can be considered in terms of energy, but in practical terms, mass typically involves matter.

#### How do mass and weight differ?

Mass is a constant property of an object, while weight is the force exerted by gravity on that mass.

#### What changes can matter undergo?

Matter can undergo physical changes (change in state) and chemical changes (change in composition).

#### How do you measure mass?

Mass is measured using scales or balances that compare an object under gravity.

#### What is matter?

Matter is any substance that occupies space and has mass, encompassing everything physically tangible.

#### Is light considered matter?

Light is not considered matter as it does not have mass and does not occupy space; it is a form of energy.

#### What happens to mass during a chemical change?

Mass is conserved in chemical reactions, meaning the total mass of reactants equals the total mass of products.

#### Why is understanding matter important?

Understanding matter is crucial for studying and manipulating the physical world, from technology to medicine.

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## Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.