Materiel vs. material

Photo of author


While the broad and versatile English word material has been in the language for centuries, materiel, with an e in the last syllable, is a more recent arrival from French. In English, materiel has one narrow definition: the equipment, apparatus, and supplies of a military force. It can apply to weapons, aircraft, parts, support equipment, ships, and almost any other type of equipment used by the military. Unlike material, materiel is pronounced with the final syllable stressed.

Some publications retain the French aigu accent on the first e—matériel—but in English the mark is unnecessary.


He said the administration should provide any provisional government with equipment and materiel. [Wall Street Journal]

Perhaps the first sign of real Iranian involvement will come when protesters look across the Gulf for materiel to fight off the government and foreign forces. [Guardian]

In Benghazi’s southern neighbourhoods and outskirts, destroyed buildings and captured Gaddafi military materiel could be seen all around. [ABC News]