late 14c., "component substance, matter from which a thing is made," from material (adj.).
mid-14c., "real, ordinary; earthly, drawn from the material world" (contrasted with spiritual, mental, supernatural), a term in scholastic philosophy and theology, from Old French material, materiel (14c.) and directly from Late Latin materialis (adj.) "of or belonging to matter," from Latin materia "matter, stuff, wood, timber" (see matter (n.)).
From late 14c. as "made of matter, having material existence; material, physical, substantial." From late 15c. as "important, relevant, necessary, pertaining to the matter or subject;" in the law of evidence, "of legal significance to the cause" (1580s).
1748, "philosophy that nothing exists except matter" (from French matérialisme); see material (n.) + ism. As this naturally tended toward "opinion or tendency based upon purely material interests," it came to be used by late 19c. for any low view of life (opposed to idealism). As "a way of life based entirely on consumer goods," by 1930.
"the totality of things used in the carrying out of any complex art or technique" (as distinguished from personnel), 1814, from French matériel "material," noun use of adj. matériel (see material (adj.)). A later borrowing of the same word that became material (n.). By 1819 in the specific sense of "articles, supplies, machinery, etc. used in the military."
1520s, "that which is the matter of something, material substance," from Modern Latin materialitas, from materialis "of or belonging to matter," from Latin materia "matter, stuff" (see matter (n.)). From 1560s as "state or quality of being material;" 1640s as "quality of being important to matters at hand, essentiality."
also materialisation, 1822, "act of investing with or assuming a material form; a change from a spiritual, ideal, or imaginary state to a state of matter," noun of action from materialize. In spiritualism, "the assumption (by a spirit) of a bodily form," by 1875.