English, like any written language, has countless words that changing even one letter will spell an entirely different word. No writer is immune from these mistakes, and their presence has the potential to alter the meaning of your sentence to something other than what you intend. Material and materiel, both of which have related meanings and similar spellings, are two words that cannot be freely interchanged. While most readers will interpret your error as a simple misspelling and move on—after silently judging you—there are contexts where using material in place of materiel could have serious consequences.
The word material originated from late Middle English (in the sense ‘relating to matter’): from late Latin materialis, adjective from Latin materia ‘matter’. The word materiel originated from early 19th century: from French materiel which is used as a noun.
Material as noun:
Goats can eat more or less any plant material.
His colonial experiences gave him material.
Material as adjective:
Materiel as noun:
Material or materiel:
Material and materiel are nouns that refer to resources. Material refers to goods and substances used to make something, or something’s constituent substances. Materiel refers to military equipment. Remember that personnel and materiel, two words that refer to, respectively, human and inanimate resources used by the military, both end in -el. This shared spelling is a useful memory tool that can help you remember this word’s usage case. Raw goods used for military construction projects could be a case where materials are used to make materiel.