Difference between speed and velocity

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The current article is dedicated to finding the difference between speed and velocity. Here we will look at the speed vs. velocity comparison in tabular form along with the differences between them.

Speed and velocity are some basic concepts of physics. These concepts are introduced under kinematics. These are the terms that people use almost interchangeably in their day-to-day life.

In physics, both the terms speed and velocity have differences between them which cannot be ignored.

Speed Vs. Velocity

  • Velocity is defined as the rate of change of displacement whereas speed is defined as the rate of change in distance with respect to time.
  • Velocity is a vector quantity, both magnitude and direction (same as that of displacement) are required to define it whereas speed is a scalar quantity. Only the magnitude is required to define the speed.
  • SI unit of velocity and speed is m/s. Speed and velocity both have the same unit.
  • Now sometimes students ask questions like

Is average speed = average velocity?

The answer is no, the average speed is not equal to the average velocity. This is because

Average Speed = Total distance/Total time

Average Velocity = Total displacement/Total time

Just like both displacement and distance are different, average speed and average velocity are also different for example- Motion around a circular track.

Speed Vs. Velocity tabular form

1Rate of change of distanceRate of change of displacement
2Scalar quantityVector quantity
3Can never be negative or zeroCan be negative, zero or positive
4Velocity without directionVelocity is the speed with direction
5It may or may not be equal to the velocityA body may possess different velocities but the same speed
6Never decreases with time. For a moving body, it is never zeroVelocity can decrease with time. For a moving body it can be zero.
7SI unit is m/sSI unit is m/s

Speed Vs. Velocity Graphical form

Speed vs. velocity infographic

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