# Physics - High School﻿

If you're experiencing inertia when it comes to learning physics, gain some momentum by studying these essential terms. You'll review force and energy, electricity and magnetism, waves, and more.
328 words 383 learners

### Full list of words from this list:

1. absorb
suck or take up or in
2. absorber
material in a nuclear reactor that absorbs radiation
3. absorption
when radiated energy is retained on passing through a medium
4. acceleration
(physics) a rate of increase of velocity
5. action
something done (usually as opposed to something said)
6. alpha decay
radioactive decay of an atomic nucleus that is accompanied by the emission of an alpha particle
7. alpha particle
a positively charged particle that is the nucleus of the helium atom; emitted from natural or radioactive isotopes
8. alternating current
an electric current that reverses direction sinusoidally
9. ampere
the basic unit of electric current adopted under the Systeme International d'Unites
10. amplification
the act of increasing voltage or power or current
11. amplitude
the maximum displacement of a periodic wave
12. angle of reflection
the angle between a reflected ray and a line perpendicular to the reflecting surface at the point of incidence
13. atom
the smallest component of an element
14. atomic bomb
a nuclear weapon in which enormous energy is released by nuclear fission (splitting the nuclei of a heavy element like uranium 235 or plutonium 239)
15. atomic mass
the property of an atom that causes it to have weight
16. atomic number
quantity of protons in the nucleus of an atom of an element
17. atomic weight
(chemistry) the mass of an atom of a chemical element expressed in atomic mass units
18. attraction
the force that one object exerts on another
19. axle
a shaft on which a wheel rotates
radiation coming from sources other than those being observed
21. bar magnet
a magnet in the form of a bar with magnetic poles at each end
22. battery
a device that produces electricity
23. beta decay
radioactive decay of an atomic nucleus that is accompanied by the emission of a beta particle
24. beta particle
a high-speed electron or positron emitted in the decay of a radioactive isotope
25. binding energy
the energy required to separate particles from a molecule or atom or nucleus; equals the mass defect
26. bioelectricity
electric phenomena in animals or plants
27. bioluminescence
luminescence produced by physiological processes
28. biomass
plant materials and animal waste used as fuel
29. breeder reactor
a nuclear reactor that produces more fissile material than it burns
30. brightness
the quality of being luminous; emitting or reflecting light
31. calorie
unit of heat raising 1 gram of water by 1 degree centigrade
32. capacitor
an electrical device characterized by its capacity to store an electric charge
33. cell
a device that delivers an electric current
34. center of gravity
the point within something at which gravity can be considered to act; in uniform gravity it is equal to the center of mass
35. centripetal force
the inward force on a body moving in a curved path around another body
36. chain reaction
a self-sustaining nuclear reaction
37. charge
the quantity of unbalanced electricity in a body
38. Charles Augustin de Coulomb
French physicist famous for his discoveries in the field of electricity and magnetism; formulated Coulomb's Law (1736-1806)
39. Charles Proteus Steinmetz
United States electrical engineer and inventor
40. chemical energy
that part of the energy in a substance that can be released by a chemical reaction
41. circuit
an electrical device providing a path for current to flow
42. closed circuit
a complete electrical circuit around which current flows or a signal circulates
43. collision
a brief event in which two or more particles come together
44. color
a visual attribute of things from the light they emit
45. compass
navigational instrument for finding directions
46. compression
the process of becoming smaller or pressed together
47. conduct
transmit or serve as the medium for transmission
48. conduction
the transmission of heat or electricity or sound
49. conductivity
the property of transmitting heat, electricity, or sound
50. conductor
a substance that readily serves as a medium for transmission
51. conservation
maintenance of constant physical or chemical quantities
52. conservation of energy
the fundamental principle of physics that the total energy of an isolated system is constant despite internal changes
53. conservation of momentum
the principle that the total linear momentum in a closed system is constant and is not affected by processes occurring inside the system
54. convection
transfer of heat caused by molecular motion in liquid or gas
55. conversion
an event that results in a transformation
56. coulomb
a unit of electrical charge equal to the amount of charge transferred by a current of 1 ampere in 1 second
57. crest
the top line of a hill, mountain, or wave
58. current
a flow of electricity through a conductor
59. cycle
a periodically repeated sequence of events
60. decay
the spontaneous disintegration of a radioactive substance
61. deceleration
(physics) a rate of decrease in velocity
62. diffraction
process by which light changes passing through a narrow slit
63. direct current
an electric current that flows in one direction steadily
64. direction
relation between something and the course on which it moves
65. displacement
an event in which something is shifted without rotation
66. distance
the size of the gap between two places
67. Doppler effect
change in the apparent frequency of a wave as observer and source move toward or away from each other
68. drag
the phenomenon of resistance to motion
69. dynamics
mechanics concerned with forces that cause motions of bodies
70. efficiency
the ratio of the output to the input of any system
71. elastic energy
potential energy that is stored when a body is deformed
72. elastic potential energy
potential energy that is stored when a body is deformed
73. elasticity
the tendency of a body to return to its original shape
74. electric
using or providing the flow of charge through a conductor
75. electric charge
the quantity of unbalanced electricity in a body (either positive or negative) and construed as an excess or deficiency of electrons
76. electric current
a flow of electricity through a conductor
77. electric field
a field of force surrounding a charged particle
78. electric potential
the difference in electrical charge between two points in a circuit expressed in volts
79. electrical
using or providing or producing or transmitting or operated by electricity
80. electrical circuit
an electrical device that provides a path for electrical current to flow
81. electrical energy
energy made available by the flow of electric charge through a conductor
82. electricity
a physical phenomenon that can produce light, heat and power
83. electromagnet
a temporary magnet made by coiling wire around an iron core
84. electromagnetic
pertaining to or exhibiting magnetism produced by electric charge in motion
radiation consisting of waves of energy associated with electric and magnetic fields resulting from the acceleration of an electric charge
86. electromagnetic spectrum
the entire frequency range of electromagnetic waves
87. electromagnetic wave
radiation consisting of waves of energy associated with electric and magnetic fields resulting from the acceleration of an electric charge
88. electromotive force
the rate at which energy is drawn from a source that produces a flow of electricity in a circuit; expressed in volts
89. electron
an elementary particle with negative charge
90. electron volt
a unit of energy equal to the work done by an electron accelerated through a potential difference of 1 volt
91. electrostatic
concerned with or producing or caused by static electricity
92. electrostatic field
electric field associated with static electric charges
93. electrostatics
the branch of physics that deals with static electricity
94. emission
the act of causing to flow forth
95. emit
give off, send forth, or discharge
96. endothermic
occurring or formed with absorption of heat
97. energy
the capacity of a physical system to do work
98. Enrico Fermi
Italian nuclear physicist (in the United States after 1939) who worked on artificial radioactivity caused by neutron bombardment and who headed the group that in 1942 produced the first controlled nuclear reaction (1901-1954)
99. entropy
energy in a system no longer available for mechanical work
100. equilibrium
a stable situation in which forces cancel one another
101. Ernest Rutherford
British physicist (born in New Zealand) who discovered the atomic nucleus and proposed a nuclear model of the atom (1871-1937)
102. excited
(of e.g. a molecule) made reactive or more reactive
103. exothermic
occurring or formed with the release of heat
104. ferromagnetism
phenomenon exhibited by materials like iron (nickel or cobalt) that become magnetized in a magnetic field and retain their magnetism when the field is removed
105. field
space around a radiating body within which it exerts force
106. first law of thermodynamics
the fundamental principle of physics that the total energy of an isolated system is constant despite internal changes
107. fluorescence
light emitted during absorption of radiation of some other (invisible) wavelength
108. force
influence that results in motion, stress, etc. when applied
109. free fall
the ideal motion of something subject only to gravity
110. frequency
the number of occurrences within a given time period
111. friction
the resistance when a body is moved in contact with another
112. fuel cell
cell that produces electricity by oxidation of fuel
113. fulcrum
the pivot about which a lever turns
electromagnetic radiation emitted during radioactive decay and having an extremely short wavelength
115. gamma ray
electromagnetic radiation emitted during radioactive decay and having an extremely short wavelength
116. gear
a toothed wheel that engages another toothed mechanism
117. generator
engine that converts mechanical energy into electricity
118. geothermal energy
energy derived from the heat in the interior of the earth
the property of a line that departs from the horizontal
120. gravitational field
a field of force surrounding a body of finite mass
121. gravitational force
the force of attraction between all masses in the universe
122. gravity
the force of attraction between all masses in the universe
123. half life
the time required for something to fall to half its initial value (in particular, the time for half the atoms in a radioactive substance to disintegrate)
124. heat
a form of energy transferred by a difference in temperature
125. hertz
unit of frequency with a periodic interval of one second
126. Hooke's law
(physics) the principle that (within the elastic limit) the stress applied to a solid is proportional to the strain produced
127. hydroelectric
of or relating to or used in the production of electricity by waterpower
128. hydroelectricity
electricity produced by water power
129. hydrogen bomb
a nuclear weapon that releases atomic energy by union of light (hydrogen) nuclei at high temperatures to form helium
130. hysteresis
the lagging of an effect behind its cause
131. impact
the striking of one body against another
132. impulse
an impelling force or strength
133. incandescence
light emission by a body as its temperature is raised
134. inclined plane
a simple machine for elevating objects
135. induction
an electrical phenomenon generating an electromotive force
136. inductor
an electrical device (typically a conducting coil) that introduces inductance into a circuit
137. inertia
the tendency of something to stay in rest or motion
138. infrared
having or employing wavelengths longer than light but shorter than radio waves; lying outside the visible spectrum at its red end
139. infrared light
electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths longer than visible light but shorter than radio waves
electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths longer than visible light but shorter than radio waves
141. insulate
surround with material to protect from heat, cold, or noise
142. insulation
reduction of the transmission of sound, heat, or electricity
143. insulator
a material with little electrical or thermal conductivity
144. intensity
the amount of energy transmitted
145. interaction
the transfer of energy between elementary particles
146. ion
a particle that is electrically charged positive or negative
147. ionization
the condition of being dissociated into ions
148. ionize
convert into ions
high-energy radiation capable of producing ionization in substances through which it passes
151. isomer
a compound that exists in forms having different arrangements of atoms but the same molecular weight
152. isotope
atom with same atomic number, different number of neutrons
153. James Clerk Maxwell
Scottish physicist whose equations unified electricity and magnetism and who recognized the electromagnetic nature of light (1831-1879)
154. joule
a unit of electrical energy
155. kilowatt
a unit of power equal to 1000 watts
156. kinematics
the branch of mechanics concerned with motion without reference to force or mass
157. kinetic energy
the mechanical energy that a body has by virtue of motion
158. laser
an optical device that produces an intense beam of light
159. law of conservation of energy
the fundamental principle of physics that the total energy of an isolated system is constant despite internal changes
160. lever
a simple machine giving a mechanical advantage on a fulcrum
161. lift
the component of the aerodynamic forces acting on an airfoil that opposes gravity
162. light
electromagnetic radiation that can produce visual sensation
163. Lise Meitner
Swedish physicist (born in Austria) who worked in the field of radiochemistry with Otto Hahn and formulated the concept of nuclear fission with Otto Frisch (1878-1968)
the power output of a generator or power plant
165. loudness
the magnitude of sound (usually in a specified direction)
166. Louis Victor de Broglie
French nuclear physicist who generalized the wave-particle duality by proposing that particles of matter exhibit wavelike properties (1892-1987)
167. luminescence
the emission of light without heat
168. machine
a device for overcoming resistance by applying force
169. magnet
a device that attracts iron and produces lines of force
170. magnetic
of or relating to or caused by attraction for iron
171. magnetic field
the lines of force surrounding a permanent magnet or a moving charged particle
172. magnetic flux
a measure of the strength of a magnetic field over a given area
173. magnetic force
attraction for iron
174. magnetic moment
the torque exerted on a magnet or dipole when it is placed in a magnetic field
175. magnetic pole
either of two points where the lines of force of the Earth's magnetic field are vertical
176. magnetism
attraction for iron
177. magnitude
the property of relative size or extent
178. Marie Curie
French chemist who won two Nobel prizes
179. mass
the property of a body that causes it to have weight
180. mass defect
the amount by which the mass of an atomic nucleus is less than the sum of the masses of its constituent particles
181. mass number
the sum of the number of neutrons and protons in an atomic nucleus
182. matter
that which has mass and occupies space
the ratio of the force exerted by a machine to the force applied to it
184. mechanical energy
energy in a mechanical form
185. medium
an intervening substance through which something is achieved
186. metal
a chemical element or alloy that is usually a shiny solid
the English physicist and chemist who discovered electromagnetic induction (1791-1867)
188. microwave
a short electromagnetic wave
189. molecule
the simplest structural unit of an element or compound
190. moment
a turning force produced by an object acting at a distance
191. momentum
the product of a body's mass and its velocity
192. motion
the act of changing location from one place to another
193. negative charge
the state of having a surplus of electrons
194. neutral
having no net electric charge
195. neutron
a subatomic particle with zero charge
196. newton
force imparting acceleration of 1 m/sec/sec to 1 kilogram
197. Newton's first law
a body remains at rest or in motion with a constant velocity unless acted upon by an external force
198. Newton's second law
the rate of change of momentum is proportional to the imposed force and goes in the direction of the force
199. Newton's third law
action and reaction are equal and opposite
200. Nikola Tesla
United States electrical engineer and inventor (born in Croatia but of Serbian descent) who discovered the principles of alternating currents and developed the first alternating-current induction motor and the Tesla coil and several forms of oscillators (1856-1943)
201. nonrenewable
that can not be renewed
202. nuclear
of, relating to, or constituting the dense center of an atom
203. nuclear energy
the energy released by a nuclear reaction
204. nuclear fission
a nuclear reaction in which a massive nucleus splits into smaller nuclei with the simultaneous release of energy
205. nuclear fusion
a nuclear reaction in which nuclei combine to form more massive nuclei with the simultaneous release of energy
206. nuclear reaction
(physics) a process that alters the energy or structure or composition of atomic nuclei
207. nuclear reactor
(physics) any of several kinds of apparatus that maintain and control a nuclear reaction for the production of energy or artificial elements
208. nucleon
a constituent (proton or neutron) of an atomic nucleus
209. nucleonics
the branch of physics that studies the internal structure of atomic nuclei
210. nucleus
the positively charged dense center of an atom
211. ohm
a unit of electrical resistance
212. Ohm's law
electric current is directly proportional to voltage and inversely proportional to resistance; I = E/R
213. open circuit
an incomplete electrical circuit in which no current flows
214. overtone
a harmonic with a frequency that is a multiple of the fundamental frequency
215. parallel circuit
a closed circuit in which the current divides into two or more paths before recombining to complete the circuit
216. particle
a body having finite mass but negligible dimensions
217. peak
the highest point of something
218. pendulum
an apparatus in which an object is mounted to swing freely
219. period
the interval to complete one cycle of a repeating phenomenon
220. periodic motion
motion that recurs over and over and the period of time required for each recurrence remains the same
221. permanent magnet
a magnet that retains its magnetism after being removed from a magnetic field
222. perpetual motion machine
a machine that can continue to do work indefinitely without drawing energy from some external source; impossible under the law of conservation of energy
223. photoelectric
of or pertaining to photoelectricity
224. photoelectricity
electricity generated by light or affected by light
225. photon
a tiny bundle of matter that transmits light
226. photovoltaic cell
a cell that converts solar energy into electrical energy
227. pitch
the high or low quality of a sound
228. pivot
axis consisting of a shaft supporting something that turns
229. polarization
when radiation is restricted in direction of vibration
230. positive charge
the state of having a deficiency of electrons
231. positron
an elementary particle with positive charge
232. potential difference
the difference in electrical charge between two points in a circuit expressed in volts
233. potential energy
energy stored by a body or system by virtue of its position
234. power
(physics) the rate of doing work
235. prism
optical device used to deviate a beam or invert an image
236. projectile
impelling or impelled forward
237. proportional
having a constant ratio
238. proton
a stable particle with positive charge
239. pulley
a wheel with a groove in which a rope can run
a unit of absorbed ionizing radiation equal to 100 ergs per gram of irradiated material
energy that is transmitted in the form of radiation
energy transmitted in the form of rays or waves or particles
an electromagnetic wave with a wavelength between 0.5 cm to 30,000 m
exhibiting or caused by emissions in nuclear decay
the spontaneous disintegration of a radioactive substance along with the emission of ionizing radiation
the discharge of particles or rays in nuclear decay
a radioactive isotope of an element
248. rarefaction
a decrease in the density of something
249. ratio
relation with respect to comparative quantity or magnitude
250. reaction
the opposite force when a force is applied to a body
251. reflection
the phenomenon of a wave being thrown back from a surface
252. refraction
the change in direction of a propagating wave
253. repel
cause to move back by force or influence
254. resistance
any mechanical force that tends to slow or oppose motion
255. resistivity
a material's opposition to the flow of electric current
256. resistor
an electrical device that resists the flow of electrical current
257. resonance
a vibration of large amplitude produced by a small vibration
258. scalar
a variable quantity that cannot be resolved into components
259. scattering
the physical process in which particles are deflected haphazardly as a result of collisions
260. scintillation counter
counter tube in which light flashes when exposed to ionizing radiation
261. screw
a simple machine with a threaded cylindrical rod and hole
262. second law of thermodynamics
a law stating that mechanical work can be derived from a body only when that body interacts with another at a lower temperature; any spontaneous process results in an increase of entropy
263. semiconductor
a substance as germanium or silicon whose electrical conductivity is intermediate between that of a metal and an insulator; its conductivity increases with temperature and in the presence of impurities
264. series circuit
a circuit having its parts connected serially
265. sight
the ability to see; the visual faculty
266. simple machine
a device for overcoming resistance at one point by applying force at some other point
267. slope
the property of a line that departs from the horizontal
268. solar cell
a cell that converts solar energy into electrical energy
269. solar energy
energy from the sun that is converted into thermal or electrical energy
270. solar heater
a heater that makes direct use of solar energy
radiation from the sun
272. solution
a homogeneous mixture of two or more substances
273. sound
mechanical vibrations transmitted by an elastic medium
274. sound wave
(acoustics) a wave that transmits sound
275. spectrum
an ordered array of the components of an emission or wave
276. speed
a rate at which something happens
277. standing wave
a wave (as a sound wave in a chamber or an electromagnetic wave in a transmission line) in which the ratio of its instantaneous amplitude at one point to that at any other point does not vary with time
278. static electricity
electricity produced by friction
279. strain
deformation of a body under the action of applied forces
280. stress
(physics) force that produces strain on a physical body
281. superposition
the placement of one thing on top of another
282. surface
the outer boundary of an artifact or a material layer
283. switch
device for making or breaking the connections in a circuit
284. system
a group of independent elements comprising a unified whole
285. temperature
the degree of hotness or coldness of a body or environment
286. tensile strength
the strength of material expressed as the greatest longitudinal stress it can bear without tearing apart
287. tension
a stress that produces an elongation of a physical body
288. terminal
a contact on a device at which current enters or leaves
289. terminal velocity
the constant maximum velocity reached by a body falling through the atmosphere under the attraction of gravity
290. thermal
relating to or associated with heat
291. thermal equilibrium
a state in which all parts of a system are at the same temperature
292. thermodynamics
physics concerned with heat and other forms of energy
293. Thomas Edison
United States inventor
294. thrust
the force used in pushing
295. time
the fourth coordinate required to specify a physical event
296. torque
a twisting force
297. tracer
(radiology) any radioactive isotope introduced into the body to study metabolism or other biological processes
298. transfer
the act of moving something from one form to another
299. transformation
the act of changing in form or shape or appearance
300. transformer
an electrical device changing one voltage to another
301. transmission
fraction of radiant energy that passes through a substance
302. transmit
serve as the medium for sending something
303. transmutation
the change of one chemical element into another
304. transverse
extending or lying across, in a crosswise direction
305. turbine
an engine that causes a bladed rotor to rotate
306. ultraviolet
having wavelengths shorter than light but longer than X-rays
307. ultraviolet light
radiation lying in the ultraviolet range
radiation lying in the ultraviolet range
309. vacuum
the absence of matter
310. vector
a quantity that has magnitude and direction
311. velocity
distance traveled per unit time in one direction
312. vibration
(physics) a regular periodic variation in value about a mean
313. visible
capable of being seen or open to easy view
314. visible light
(physics) electromagnetic radiation that can produce a visual sensation
315. vision
the ability to see
316. volt
a unit for measuring the force of an electric current
317. voltage
difference in electrical charge between points in a circuit
318. watt
a unit of power equal to 1 joule per second
319. wave
(physics) a movement up and down or back and forth
320. wave-particle duality
(physics) the property of matter and electromagnetic radiation that is characterized by the fact that some properties can be explained best by wave theory and others by particle theory
321. wavelength
distance between successive crests of a periodic disturbance
322. wedge
something solid that can be pushed between two things
323. weight
the vertical force exerted by a mass as a result of gravity
324. wheel
a simple machine consisting of a circular frame with spokes (or a solid disc) that can rotate on a shaft or axle (as in vehicles or other machines)
325. wheel and axle
hoist so arranged that a rope unwinding from a wheel is wound onto a cylindrical drum or shaft coaxial with the wheel
326. wind power
power derived from the wind (as by windmills)
327. work
a manifestation of energy
328. X ray
electromagnetic radiation of short wavelength produced when high-speed electrons strike a solid target
Created on February 23, 2017 (updated April 20, 2017)