Skip to ContentGo to accessibility pageKeyboard shortcuts menu
OpenStax Logo

Key Terms

PhysicsKey Terms

air resistance
a frictional force that slows the motion of objects as they travel through the air; when solving basic physics problems, air resistance is assumed to be zero
the maximum displacement from the equilibrium position of an object oscillating around the equilibrium position
analytical method
the method of determining the magnitude and direction of a resultant vector using the Pythagorean theorem and trigonometric identities
component (of a 2-dimensional vector)
a piece of a vector that points in a particular direction, usually in the direction of one of the axes of a chosen coordinate system; every 2-d vector can be expressed as a sum of two perpendicular vector components
displacement from equilibrium, or change in shape due to the application of force
equilibrium position
where an object would naturally rest in the absence of a net force
number of events per unit of time
graphical method
drawing vectors on a graph to add them using the head-to-tail method
head (of a vector)
the end point of a vector; the location of the vector’s arrow; also referred to as the tip
head-to-tail method
a method of adding vectors in which the tail of each vector is placed at the head of the previous vector
Hooke’s law
proportional relationship between the force F on a material and the deformation ΔL ΔL it causes, F=kΔL F=kΔL
kinetic friction
a force that opposes the motion of two systems that are in contact and moving relative to one another
maximum height (of a projectile)
the highest altitude, or maximum displacement in the vertical position reached in the path of a projectile
moving back and forth regularly between two points
time it takes to complete one oscillation
periodic motion
motion that repeats itself at regular time intervals
an object that travels through the air and experiences only acceleration due to gravity
projectile motion
the motion of an object that is subject only to the acceleration of gravity
the maximum horizontal distance that a projectile travels
restoring force
force acting in opposition to the force causing the deformation
the sum of the a collection of vectors
resultant vector
the vector sum of two or more vectors
simple harmonic motion
the oscillatory motion in a system where the net force can be described by Hooke’s law
simple pendulum
an object with a small mass suspended from a light wire or string
static friction
a force that prevents the relative motion of two systems that are in contact and are not moving relative to one another
the starting point of a vector; the point opposite to the head or tip of the arrow
the path of a projectile through the air
vector addition
adding together two or more vectors
Order a print copy

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.


This book may not be used in the training of large language models or otherwise be ingested into large language models or generative AI offerings without OpenStax's permission.

Want to cite, share, or modify this book? This book uses the Creative Commons Attribution License and you must attribute Texas Education Agency (TEA). The original material is available at: . Changes were made to the original material, including updates to art, structure, and other content updates.

Attribution information
  • If you are redistributing all or part of this book in a print format, then you must include on every physical page the following attribution:
    Access for free at
  • If you are redistributing all or part of this book in a digital format, then you must include on every digital page view the following attribution:
    Access for free at
Citation information

© Jan 19, 2024 Texas Education Agency (TEA). The OpenStax name, OpenStax logo, OpenStax book covers, OpenStax CNX name, and OpenStax CNX logo are not subject to the Creative Commons license and may not be reproduced without the prior and express written consent of Rice University.