Difference between Distance and Displacement

What are the major differences between Distance and Displacement?

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The difference between distance and displacement is not always easy to grasp. In fact, some people find the two terms to be synonyms and use them interchangeably. Others may have heard the terms used in a specific way but aren’t sure how they differ from one another.

The main difference is that distance is a straight-line measurement between two points while displacement is the shortest distance between two points.

Before we move to the differences, let’s understand what are Distance and Displacement:

  • Distance: Distance is a measure of the length between two points.
  • Displacement: Displacement is the shortest distance between two points.

Now, let’s move to Distance vs Displacement:

Major differences between Distance and Displacement

Distance Displacement
It can only have positive values. It can be positive, negative, and even zero.
Distance does not have any direction. Displacement has a direction.
Distance is a scalar quantity. Displacement is a vector quantity.
Its formula is Speed x Time. Its formula id Velocity x Time.
Distance doesn’t decrease with time. Displacement increases or decreases with time.

That’s it.

Note that sometimes, the question might also be asked as “distinguish between Distance and Displacement”.

Also see:

Final words

In conclusion, the difference between distance and displacement is that the first is a measure of how far you have moved from one point to another, while the second is a measure of how far you have moved from your starting position.

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