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Material and Materiel

Commonly Confused Words

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The noun material refers to a substance out of which something can be made. As an adjective, material means relevant and consequential.

The noun materiel (also spelled matériel) refers to supplies and equipment used by an organization, especially a military unit.

Examples:

  • "The first time I tried organic wheat bread, I thought I was chewing on roofing material." (Robin Williams)

  • The withdrawal from Iraq is a feat of logistics that has been called the biggest movement of military matériel since World War II.

Practice:

(a) Officials insisted that the naval blockade had to remain in place to prevent the smuggling of weapons and other war _____.

(b) "Most of the basic _____ a writer works with is acquired before the age of fifteen." (Willa Cather)

Answers to Practice Exercises

Glossary of Usage: Index of Commonly Confused Words

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