Speed vs. Velocity

The difference between velocity and speed can be explained as that velocity is the speed including the direction of motion while speed does not tell about direction. Speed is actually the magnitude of the velocity. Speed can be defined as “rate of change of position of an object” while when it specifies direction also, it is termed as velocity.

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Velocity vs. Speed

The rate of change of position of an object is actually the speed of that object while the speed of the object in a particular direction is termed as velocity. Both speed and velocity have the same units, i.e. meter/sec or Km/hour.

The speed of an object is actually the magnitude of the velocity. While velocity has magnitude plus direction.

In terms of types of physical quantities, speed is scalar while velocity is a vector. Vector quantities require direction to define them while scalar quantities do not require it.

Speed can also be defined as the distance traveled by an object per unit time while velocity is actually the displacement covered by an object per unit time. Distance tells about the total path traveled by the object while displacement tells about the shortest path required to travel by the object to reach the destination. Speed specifies at what speed some object is moving while velocity specifies in which direction some object is moving.  Speed determines the rapidity of something while velocity determines the rapidity and position of that object because now direction has also been added. Speed any moving object is always positive. It cannot be negative or zero. While the velocity of any moving object can be positive or negative.

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Average speed can be calculated as

Average speed= total distance/time taken

While the average velocity can be calculated as

Average velocity= Displacement/Total time

SI unit of both speed and velocity is the same, i.e. m/sec.

Velocity can be negative, positive or zero while speed can never be zero or negative. For a moving object, its velocity can be zero while its speed cannot be zero.

For a moving object, it can assume different velocities even at the same speed. While for a moving object, its speed can or cannot be equal to its velocity.

Contents: Difference between Speed and Velocity

Comparison chart

BasisSpeed Velocity
DefinitionDistance covered per unit time.Distance traveled by anything in a specific direction per unit time.
Physical quantityIt is a scalar quantity.It is a vector quantity.
 IncludesIt includes the only magnitude.It includes magnitude plus direction.
Meaning It is the distance covered by an object per unit time.It is the displacement covered by an object per unit time.
Positive or negative The speed of a moving object cannot be negative.The velocity of a moving object can be negative or positive.
Can or cannot be zeroThe speed of a moving object can never be zero.The velocity of a moving object can be zero.
Relation with each otherFor a moving object, its speed can be cannot be equal to its velocity.A moving object can assume different velocities at the same speed.
Determines The speed of an object determines its rapidity.The velocity of an object determines its rapidity and position.
Relation with acceleration Acceleration cannot be measured from it.Acceleration can be measured from it.
SI unitMeter per second. (m/s)Meter per second. (m/s)
FormulaDistance covered/total time.Displacement/Total time.
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What is Speed?

The speed of an object can be defined as the distance covered by the object in unit time. It can be defined completely by its magnitude, so it is a scalar quantity. It is actually the quickness of the body, i.e. how fast or slow an object travels. In system international, it is measured in the unit, i.e. meter per second (m/s), but commonly the unit used is kilometer per hour (Km/h).

When an object moves with high speed, it covers a large distance in a small-time while when an object moves at slow speed, it requires a large time to cover the distance. When an object is not moving, its speed is zero. Suppose, a bullet emitting from a gun is moving, and we want to know its speed, we will have to know, how fast it is moving and it is the speed of the bullet.

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Average speed can be calculated as

Average speed= Total distance covered/ Total time.

What is Velocity?

Velocity is actually the speed of any moving thing in a specific direction.

It includes the magnitude of speed plus direction of the object, so it is a vector quantity. So, if the velocity of an object is required to know, it’s mandatory to describe in which direction it is moving.

Its unit is also meter per second or kilometer or hour. The velocity of an object is actually the displacement of the object per unit time. Displacement is the shortest distance necessary to travel to reach the destination. Since displacement is a vector quantity, so velocity is also a vector quantity. The velocity of a moving object can be positive or negative or zero, unlike speed which can never be negative for a moving thing.

If we want to know the velocity of a bullet emitting from a gun, we must know its speed and the direction in which it is moving.

Average velocity can be calculated as

Velocity=Displacement/ Total time.

Key differences

  1. Speed is actually the change of position of a body per unit time while velocity is the change of position of a body per unit time in a specific direction.
  2. In terms of physical quantities, speed is scalar while velocity is a vector.
  3. Both speed and velocity are measured in the same units, i.e. meter per second or kilometer per hour.
  4. The speed of a moving object cannot be negative while the velocity of a moving thing can be negative.
  5. Acceleration cannot be measured from speed while it can be measured from velocity.

Conclusion

Speed and velocity are the basic physical quantities in Physics also we are encountered with them in our daily life. They can be mixed with each other, so it is compulsive to know the difference between them. In the above article, we learned clear differences between speed and velocity.

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