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Distance and Displacement - Definition, Examples, Difference, FAQs

Distance and Displacement - Definition, Examples, Difference, FAQs

Edited By Team Careers360 | Updated on May 30, 2022 03:36 PM IST

Distance Definition Physics

Distance meaning is the length of a path covered by an object in a certain time interval. The shortest distance travelled by an object in a given direction is called displacement. Example: Take a ball and toss it into the air at a slight inclination to the horizontal. Draw its journey on paper after observing it.

Distance displacement

S denotes a small distance while L denotes a long distance. The path taken by the ball when it was tossed into the air is depicted in the diagram below. The length of an object's path crossed in a particular time interval is called" distance," and the smallest distance reached in a specific direction is called "displacement."

The term "displacement" refers to a vector. Some quantities are stated with magnitude and direction to represent a physical situation. A vector is a physical quantity like this. Scalar refers to a physical quantity that does not require any direction to explain.

A vector can be given by a directed line segment for which it’s length indicates the magnitude along with the arrow indicating it’s direction. Point ‘A’ is known as the tail and point ‘B’ is called head.

For example ASB represents the actual distance travelled by an object, whereas AB represents a displacement and distance, which is a straight line drawn from the motion's initial location to its final position. The meter, abbreviated as ‘m,' is the SI unit of displacement and distance. Other units are also



A scalar quantity is distance. The quantity of displacement is a vector quantity. Used to express this quantity, such as kilometer, centimeter, and so on.

Also read -

What is displacement definition?

A brief distance between two places is defined as displacement.

Distance is a scalar quantity

Distance is a scalar number, which indicates that the distance between two objects is independent of their motion direction. An object's distance can be defined as the object's entire path travelled. For example, if an automobile travels east for 5 kilometers before turning north for another 8 kilometers, the total distance travelled by the car is 13 kilometers. The distance can never be negative or zero, and it is always positive.

Displacement is a vector quantity

The displacement meaning of an object is a vector quantity, which implies that it is determined by the object's motion direction. The total motion of an object can be defined as the minimal distance between the object's beginning location and its ultimate position. For example, if we use the same example as before, the total displacement.

The length of the line connecting the two points will equal the length of the object. The distance travelled by an object is usually shorter or equal to the object's displacement. The object's displacement does not provide sufficient information on the path taken by the object.

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Displacement definition in physics

The object's displacement is defined as the shortest distance between its original position and its end position. Any object's displacement physics can alternatively be described as a change in its location in a specific direction. That is, an object's displacement equals its ultimate location minus its original position., however the distance travelled by the object is never zero. The distance travelled by an object is either equal to or larger than the magnitude of the object's displacement.

In the SI system, displacement is measured in meters (m), but in the CGS system, it is measured in centimeters (cm).

Distance definition in physics

The distance travelled by an object is the length of the actual path between its initial and end positions in a particular time interval. Distance is a scalar quantity unit in the SI system meter(m) in the CGS system centimeter (cm)

NCERT Physics Notes :

Examples of distance and displacement

A train goes from station A to B as shown in figure.


Distance displacement 2

1) The distance between travelled by the train

2) The magnitude of the displacement of the train on reaching station B

  1. distance travelled by the train =50+100+200+400=750km
  2. magnitude of the displacement in going from station A to B=400km

Also read :

Difference between displacement and distance

An object's total or full path of travel.
The shortest distance between the object's final position and its initial position during motion.
It can't be negative or zero; it must be positive.Depending on context, it can be positive, negative, or zero.
It's a scalar value.It is a vector quantity.
The distance between two points does not change over time.It decreases with time.
It must always be greater than or may be equal the displacement value.It is either equal to or less than distance value.
It is signified by letter ‘d.'It is indicated by letter ‘s’
It provides detailed information regarding the object's path of travel.It does not provide all of information regarding the object's journey.

There are some parallels between displacement and distance that you should be aware of.

  • The units of displacement and distance are the same in S.I. units, namely metres (m).
  • Both of these measurements necessitate the use of a reference point.
  • If the motion of the object is in a straight line and in a single direction, they are equal.

Also check-

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

1. What is distance?

The term "distance" refers to "how much ground an object has covered" during its travel.

2. What are the similarities between distance and displacement?

The units of displacement and distance which are both same that is meters in standard unit. They both requires reference point in order to measure from initial point.

3. What is the SI unit of measurement for distance?

The metre is the SI unit of measurement for distance.

4. What are the SI units of measurement for displacement?

The metre is the SI unit of displacement.

5. What are the CGS distance units?

CGS units of measurement are centimetres.

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