Distance and displacement

What is distance and displacement?

A straight line joining the initial and final position of a body is called its displacement, irrespective of the nature of the path taken by the body. As the line is directed from the initial position towards the final one hence it is called displacement vector. On the other hand, the length of the actual path between the initial and final positions of the body is called the distance covered by it.

distance and displacement
distance and displacement


1) It is the length of actual path traversed by body during motion in a given interval of time.

2) Distance is a scalar quantity.
3) The S.I. unit of distance is metre and cgs unit is cm.

4) The value of distance travelled by a moving body can never be zero or negative.

5) The dimensional formula of distance is [ MoL1T0]


1) Displacement of a body in a given time is defined as the change in the position of the body in a particular direction during that time.
2) Displacement is a vector quantity as it process both, magnitude and direction.

3) Displacement of a body in a given time is represented by a vector drawn from the initial position to its final position.
4) The unit of displacement is that of length.
5) The value of displacement can be positive, zero or negative.

6) The displacement of an object between two points has a unique value.

7) The value of displacement can never be greater then distance travelled.

8) The magnitude of the distance travelled if the body is moving along a straight line path is having one dimensional motion.
9) When a moving body returns to its starting point, then its effective displacement is zero.