Physics - Middle 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.
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  1. absorb
    suck or take up or in
  2. absorption
    when radiated energy is retained on passing through a medium
  3. acceleration
    (physics) a rate of increase of velocity
  4. action
    something done (usually as opposed to something said)
  5. alternating current
    an electric current that reverses direction sinusoidally
  6. ampere
    the basic unit of electric current adopted under the Systeme International d'Unites
  7. amplification
    the act of increasing voltage or power or current
  8. amplitude
    the maximum displacement of a periodic wave
  9. angle of reflection
    the angle between a reflected ray and a line perpendicular to the reflecting surface at the point of incidence
  10. atom
    the smallest component of an element
  11. atomic mass
    the property of an atom that causes it to have weight
  12. atomic number
    quantity of protons in the nucleus of an atom of an element
  13. attraction
    the force that one object exerts on another
  14. axle
    a shaft on which a wheel rotates
  15. bar magnet
    a magnet in the form of a bar with magnetic poles at each end
  16. battery
    a device that produces electricity
  17. bioelectricity
    electric phenomena in animals or plants
  18. bioluminescence
    luminescence produced by physiological processes
  19. biomass
    plant materials and animal waste used as fuel
  20. brightness
    the quality of being luminous; emitting or reflecting light
  21. calorie
    unit of heat raising 1 gram of water by 1 degree centigrade
  22. capacitor
    an electrical device characterized by its capacity to store an electric charge
  23. cell
    a device that delivers an electric current
  24. 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
  25. centripetal force
    the inward force on a body moving in a curved path around another body
  26. charge
    the quantity of unbalanced electricity in a body
  27. chemical energy
    that part of the energy in a substance that can be released by a chemical reaction
  28. circuit
    an electrical device providing a path for current to flow
  29. closed circuit
    a complete electrical circuit around which current flows or a signal circulates
  30. collision
    a brief event in which two or more particles come together
  31. color
    a visual attribute of things from the light they emit
  32. compass
    navigational instrument for finding directions
  33. compression
    the process of becoming smaller or pressed together
  34. conduct
    transmit or serve as the medium for transmission
  35. conduction
    the transmission of heat or electricity or sound
  36. conductivity
    the property of transmitting heat, electricity, or sound
  37. conductor
    a substance that readily serves as a medium for transmission
  38. conservation
    maintenance of constant physical or chemical quantities
  39. conservation of energy
    the fundamental principle of physics that the total energy of an isolated system is constant despite internal changes
  40. 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
  41. convection
    transfer of heat caused by molecular motion in liquid or gas
  42. conversion
    an event that results in a transformation
  43. crest
    the top line of a hill, mountain, or wave
  44. current
    a flow of electricity through a conductor
  45. cycle
    a periodically repeated sequence of events
  46. deceleration
    (physics) a rate of decrease in velocity
  47. diffraction
    process by which light changes passing through a narrow slit
  48. direct current
    an electric current that flows in one direction steadily
  49. direction
    relation between something and the course on which it moves
  50. distance
    the size of the gap between two places
  51. Doppler effect
    change in the apparent frequency of a wave as observer and source move toward or away from each other
  52. drag
    the phenomenon of resistance to motion
  53. dynamics
    mechanics concerned with forces that cause motions of bodies
  54. efficiency
    the ratio of the output to the input of any system
  55. elasticity
    the tendency of a body to return to its original shape
  56. electric
    using or providing the flow of charge through a conductor
  57. electric charge
    the quantity of unbalanced electricity in a body (either positive or negative) and construed as an excess or deficiency of electrons
  58. electric current
    a flow of electricity through a conductor
  59. electric field
    a field of force surrounding a charged particle
  60. electric potential
    the difference in electrical charge between two points in a circuit expressed in volts
  61. electrical
    using or providing or producing or transmitting or operated by electricity
  62. electrical circuit
    an electrical device that provides a path for electrical current to flow
  63. electrical energy
    energy made available by the flow of electric charge through a conductor
  64. electricity
    a physical phenomenon that can produce light, heat and power
  65. electromagnet
    a temporary magnet made by coiling wire around an iron core
  66. electromagnetic
    pertaining to or exhibiting magnetism produced by electric charge in motion
  67. electromagnetic radiation
    radiation consisting of waves of energy associated with electric and magnetic fields resulting from the acceleration of an electric charge
  68. electromagnetic spectrum
    the entire frequency range of electromagnetic waves
  69. electromagnetic wave
    radiation consisting of waves of energy associated with electric and magnetic fields resulting from the acceleration of an electric charge
  70. electromotive force
    the rate at which energy is drawn from a source that produces a flow of electricity in a circuit; expressed in volts
  71. electron
    an elementary particle with negative charge
  72. electrostatic
    concerned with or producing or caused by static electricity
  73. electrostatic field
    electric field associated with static electric charges
  74. electrostatics
    the branch of physics that deals with static electricity
  75. emission
    the act of causing to flow forth
  76. emit
    give off, send forth, or discharge
  77. endothermic
    occurring or formed with absorption of heat
  78. energy
    the capacity of a physical system to do work
  79. equilibrium
    a stable situation in which forces cancel one another
  80. exothermic
    occurring or formed with the release of heat
  81. 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
  82. field
    space around a radiating body within which it exerts force
  83. first law of thermodynamics
    the fundamental principle of physics that the total energy of an isolated system is constant despite internal changes
  84. fluorescence
    light emitted during absorption of radiation of some other (invisible) wavelength
  85. force
    influence that results in motion, stress, etc. when applied
  86. free fall
    the ideal motion of something subject only to gravity
  87. frequency
    the number of occurrences within a given time period
  88. friction
    the resistance when a body is moved in contact with another
  89. fuel cell
    cell that produces electricity by oxidation of fuel
  90. fulcrum
    the pivot about which a lever turns
  91. gamma ray
    electromagnetic radiation emitted during radioactive decay and having an extremely short wavelength
  92. gear
    a toothed wheel that engages another toothed mechanism
  93. generator
    engine that converts mechanical energy into electricity
  94. geothermal energy
    energy derived from the heat in the interior of the earth
  95. gravitational field
    a field of force surrounding a body of finite mass
  96. gravitational force
    the force of attraction between all masses in the universe
  97. gravity
    the force of attraction between all masses in the universe
  98. heat
    a form of energy transferred by a difference in temperature
  99. hertz
    unit of frequency with a periodic interval of one second
  100. Hooke's law
    (physics) the principle that (within the elastic limit) the stress applied to a solid is proportional to the strain produced
  101. hydroelectric
    of or relating to or used in the production of electricity by waterpower
  102. hydroelectricity
    electricity produced by water power
  103. impact
    the striking of one body against another
  104. incandescence
    light emission by a body as its temperature is raised
  105. inclined plane
    a simple machine for elevating objects
  106. induction
    an electrical phenomenon generating an electromotive force
  107. inductor
    an electrical device (typically a conducting coil) that introduces inductance into a circuit
  108. inertia
    the tendency of something to stay in rest or motion
  109. infrared
    having or employing wavelengths longer than light but shorter than radio waves; lying outside the visible spectrum at its red end
  110. infrared light
    electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths longer than visible light but shorter than radio waves
  111. infrared radiation
    electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths longer than visible light but shorter than radio waves
  112. insulate
    surround with material to protect from heat, cold, or noise
  113. insulation
    reduction of the transmission of sound, heat, or electricity
  114. insulator
    a material with little electrical or thermal conductivity
  115. intensity
    the amount of energy transmitted
  116. interaction
    the transfer of energy between elementary particles
  117. ion
    a particle that is electrically charged positive or negative
  118. joule
    a unit of electrical energy
  119. kilowatt
    a unit of power equal to 1000 watts
  120. kinetic energy
    the mechanical energy that a body has by virtue of motion
  121. laser
    an optical device that produces an intense beam of light
  122. law of conservation of energy
    the fundamental principle of physics that the total energy of an isolated system is constant despite internal changes
  123. lever
    a simple machine giving a mechanical advantage on a fulcrum
  124. lift
    the component of the aerodynamic forces acting on an airfoil that opposes gravity
  125. light
    electromagnetic radiation that can produce visual sensation
  126. 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)
  127. load
    weight to be borne or conveyed
  128. loudness
    the magnitude of sound (usually in a specified direction)
  129. luminescence
    the emission of light without heat
  130. machine
    a device for overcoming resistance by applying force
  131. magnet
    a device that attracts iron and produces lines of force
  132. magnetic
    of or relating to or caused by attraction for iron
  133. magnetic field
    the lines of force surrounding a permanent magnet or a moving charged particle
  134. magnetic flux
    a measure of the strength of a magnetic field over a given area
  135. magnetic force
    attraction for iron
  136. magnetic moment
    the torque exerted on a magnet or dipole when it is placed in a magnetic field
  137. magnetic pole
    either of two points where the lines of force of the Earth's magnetic field are vertical
  138. magnetism
    attraction for iron
  139. magnitude
    the property of relative size or extent
  140. mass
    the property of a body that causes it to have weight
  141. mass number
    the sum of the number of neutrons and protons in an atomic nucleus
  142. matter
    that which has mass and occupies space
  143. mechanical advantage
    the ratio of the force exerted by a machine to the force applied to it
  144. mechanical energy
    energy in a mechanical form
  145. medium
    an intervening substance through which something is achieved
  146. metal
    a chemical element or alloy that is usually a shiny solid
  147. Michael Faraday
    the English physicist and chemist who discovered electromagnetic induction (1791-1867)
  148. microwave
    a short electromagnetic wave
  149. molecule
    the simplest structural unit of an element or compound
  150. moment
    a turning force produced by an object acting at a distance
  151. momentum
    the product of a body's mass and its velocity
  152. motion
    the act of changing location from one place to another
  153. negative charge
    the state of having a surplus of electrons
  154. neutral
    having no net electric charge
  155. newton
    force imparting acceleration of 1 m/sec/sec to 1 kilogram
  156. Newton's first law
    a body remains at rest or in motion with a constant velocity unless acted upon by an external force
  157. Newton's second law
    the rate of change of momentum is proportional to the imposed force and goes in the direction of the force
  158. Newton's third law
    action and reaction are equal and opposite
  159. 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)
  160. nonrenewable
    that can not be renewed
  161. nuclear energy
    the energy released by a nuclear reaction
  162. nuclear fission
    a nuclear reaction in which a massive nucleus splits into smaller nuclei with the simultaneous release of energy
  163. nuclear reaction
    (physics) a process that alters the energy or structure or composition of atomic nuclei
  164. nucleus
    the positively charged dense center of an atom
  165. ohm
    a unit of electrical resistance
  166. Ohm's law
    electric current is directly proportional to voltage and inversely proportional to resistance; I = E/R
  167. open circuit
    an incomplete electrical circuit in which no current flows
  168. overtone
    a harmonic with a frequency that is a multiple of the fundamental frequency
  169. parallel circuit
    a closed circuit in which the current divides into two or more paths before recombining to complete the circuit
  170. particle
    a body having finite mass but negligible dimensions
  171. peak
    the highest point of something
  172. pendulum
    an apparatus in which an object is mounted to swing freely
  173. period
    the interval to complete one cycle of a repeating phenomenon
  174. periodic motion
    motion that recurs over and over and the period of time required for each recurrence remains the same
  175. permanent magnet
    a magnet that retains its magnetism after being removed from a magnetic field
  176. photon
    a tiny bundle of matter that transmits light
  177. photovoltaic cell
    a cell that converts solar energy into electrical energy
  178. pitch
    the high or low quality of a sound
  179. pivot
    axis consisting of a shaft supporting something that turns
  180. polarization
    when radiation is restricted in direction of vibration
  181. positive charge
    the state of having a deficiency of electrons
  182. potential difference
    the difference in electrical charge between two points in a circuit expressed in volts
  183. potential energy
    energy stored by a body or system by virtue of its position
  184. power
    (physics) the rate of doing work
  185. prism
    optical device used to deviate a beam or invert an image
  186. projectile
    impelling or impelled forward
  187. proportional
    having a constant ratio
  188. proton
    a stable particle with positive charge
  189. pulley
    a wheel with a groove in which a rope can run
  190. radiant energy
    energy that is transmitted in the form of radiation
  191. radiation
    energy transmitted in the form of rays or waves or particles
  192. radio wave
    an electromagnetic wave with a wavelength between 0.5 cm to 30,000 m
  193. rarefaction
    a decrease in the density of something
  194. ratio
    relation with respect to comparative quantity or magnitude
  195. reaction
    the opposite force when a force is applied to a body
  196. reflection
    the phenomenon of a wave being thrown back from a surface
  197. refraction
    the change in direction of a propagating wave
  198. renewable
    capable of being replaced
  199. repel
    cause to move back by force or influence
  200. resistance
    any mechanical force that tends to slow or oppose motion
  201. resistivity
    a material's opposition to the flow of electric current
  202. resistor
    an electrical device that resists the flow of electrical current
  203. scattering
    the physical process in which particles are deflected haphazardly as a result of collisions
  204. screw
    a simple machine with a threaded cylindrical rod and hole
  205. 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
  206. 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
  207. series circuit
    a circuit having its parts connected serially
  208. sight
    the ability to see; the visual faculty
  209. simple machine
    a device for overcoming resistance at one point by applying force at some other point
  210. slope
    the property of a line that departs from the horizontal
  211. solar cell
    a cell that converts solar energy into electrical energy
  212. solar energy
    energy from the sun that is converted into thermal or electrical energy
  213. solar heater
    a heater that makes direct use of solar energy
  214. solar radiation
    radiation from the sun
  215. solution
    a homogeneous mixture of two or more substances
  216. sound
    mechanical vibrations transmitted by an elastic medium
  217. sound wave
    (acoustics) a wave that transmits sound
  218. spectrum
    an ordered array of the components of an emission or wave
  219. speed
    a rate at which something happens
  220. 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
  221. static electricity
    electricity produced by friction
  222. strain
    deformation of a body under the action of applied forces
  223. stress
    (physics) force that produces strain on a physical body
  224. superposition
    the placement of one thing on top of another
  225. surface
    the outer boundary of an artifact or a material layer
  226. switch
    device for making or breaking the connections in a circuit
  227. system
    a group of independent elements comprising a unified whole
  228. temperature
    the degree of hotness or coldness of a body or environment
  229. tensile strength
    the strength of material expressed as the greatest longitudinal stress it can bear without tearing apart
  230. tension
    a stress that produces an elongation of a physical body
  231. terminal
    a contact on a device at which current enters or leaves
  232. terminal velocity
    the constant maximum velocity reached by a body falling through the atmosphere under the attraction of gravity
  233. thermal
    relating to or associated with heat
  234. thermal equilibrium
    a state in which all parts of a system are at the same temperature
  235. thermodynamics
    physics concerned with heat and other forms of energy
  236. Thomas Edison
    United States inventor
  237. thrust
    the force used in pushing
  238. time
    the fourth coordinate required to specify a physical event
  239. torque
    a twisting force
  240. transfer
    the act of moving something from one form to another
  241. transformation
    the act of changing in form or shape or appearance
  242. transformer
    an electrical device changing one voltage to another
  243. transmission
    fraction of radiant energy that passes through a substance
  244. transmit
    serve as the medium for sending something
  245. transverse
    extending or lying across, in a crosswise direction
  246. turbine
    an engine that causes a bladed rotor to rotate
  247. ultraviolet
    having wavelengths shorter than light but longer than X-rays
  248. ultraviolet light
    radiation lying in the ultraviolet range
  249. ultraviolet radiation
    radiation lying in the ultraviolet range
  250. vacuum
    the absence of matter
  251. vector
    a quantity that has magnitude and direction
  252. velocity
    distance traveled per unit time in one direction
  253. vibration
    (physics) a regular periodic variation in value about a mean
  254. visible
    capable of being seen or open to easy view
  255. visible light
    (physics) electromagnetic radiation that can produce a visual sensation
  256. vision
    the ability to see
  257. volt
    a unit for measuring the force of an electric current
  258. voltage
    difference in electrical charge between points in a circuit
  259. watt
    a unit of power equal to 1 joule per second
  260. wave
    (physics) a movement up and down or back and forth
  261. 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
  262. wavelength
    distance between successive crests of a periodic disturbance
  263. wedge
    something solid that can be pushed between two things
  264. weight
    the vertical force exerted by a mass as a result of gravity
  265. 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)
  266. 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
  267. wind power
    power derived from the wind (as by windmills)
  268. work
    a manifestation of energy
  269. 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)

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