Material or Materiel?

What Is the Difference between "Material" and "Materiel"?

"Material" and "materiel" are easy to confuse because their meanings are close and they sound almost identical (i.e., they are nearly perfect homonyms).
  • "Material" is the matter from which a thing is made.
    • His trousers were made of a shiny material.
  • "Materiel" is the equipment or supplies in military or commercial supply-chain management.
    • The ship bringing more men and materiel is stranded at sea.
material or materiel?

Materiel or Material?

Writers often use "material" when they mean "materiel." It is also common for readers to think "materiel" is a spelling mistake of "material." As it is a specialist word used in the field of logistics, "materiel" (with an 'e') is a far less common word than "material."


The word "materiel" means the equipment and supplies in military or commercial supply-chain management. So, a forklift truck (which is equipment used in the supply chain) and a can of petrol (which is one of the supplies) would both be classified as materiel. In other words, materiel is the things a military force or a business needs to do its job.

Example sentences with "materiel":
  • I need more men and materiel if I am to defeat the enemy. correct tick
  • The Minister for Defence and the Minister for Defence Materiel announced that the Government will buy a fleet of new vehicles. correct tick
  • The fire in our distribution centre has damaged so much materiel, we will be unable to trade for at least six months. correct tick


Material means matter, fabric, substance, or cloth. It is the matter from which a thing is made. As an adjective, "material" denotes that something is physical. (You might have material needs as opposed to physical needs or emotional needs, e.g., "I have material needs. I need a car not a hug.")

Example sentences with "material":
  • Her tablecloths were made of fine material such as silk or linen. correct tick
  • Television is now so desperately hungry for material that they're scraping the top of the barrel. correct tick(Author Gore Vidal)
  • (In the two examples above, "material" is a noun.)
  • We are living in a material world, and I am a material girl. correct tick (Singer Madonna)
  • (Here, "material" is an adjective.)
  • The quality of American life must keep pace with the quantity of American goods. This country cannot afford to be materially rich and spiritually poor. correct tick (President John F. Kennedy)
  • (Here, "materially" is an adverb.)

Top Tip

Materiel = Equipment

Let the last "e" in materiel remind you that it means equipment.

A Video Summary

Here is a 2-minute video summarizing the difference between "material" and "materiel." video lesson

Are you a visual learner? Do you prefer video to text? Here is a list of all our grammar videos.

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This page was written by Craig Shrives.