Physics - Introductory

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, simple machines, 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. ampere
    the basic unit of electric current adopted under the Systeme International d'Unites
  6. amplitude
    the maximum displacement of a periodic wave
  7. atom
    the smallest component of an element
  8. attraction
    the force that one object exerts on another
  9. axle
    a shaft on which a wheel rotates
  10. bar magnet
    a magnet in the form of a bar with magnetic poles at each end
  11. battery
    a device that produces electricity
  12. brightness
    the quality of being luminous; emitting or reflecting light
  13. calorie
    unit of heat raising 1 gram of water by 1 degree centigrade
  14. charge
    the quantity of unbalanced electricity in a body
  15. chemical energy
    that part of the energy in a substance that can be released by a chemical reaction
  16. circuit
    an electrical device providing a path for current to flow
  17. closed circuit
    a complete electrical circuit around which current flows or a signal circulates
  18. collision
    a brief event in which two or more particles come together
  19. color
    a visual attribute of things from the light they emit
  20. compass
    navigational instrument for finding directions
  21. compression
    the process of becoming smaller or pressed together
  22. conduct
    transmit or serve as the medium for transmission
  23. conduction
    the transmission of heat or electricity or sound
  24. conductivity
    the property of transmitting heat, electricity, or sound
  25. conductor
    a substance that readily serves as a medium for transmission
  26. conservation
    maintenance of constant physical or chemical quantities
  27. conservation of energy
    the fundamental principle of physics that the total energy of an isolated system is constant despite internal changes
  28. 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
  29. convection
    transfer of heat caused by molecular motion in liquid or gas
  30. conversion
    an event that results in a transformation
  31. crest
    the top line of a hill, mountain, or wave
  32. current
    a flow of electricity through a conductor
  33. deceleration
    (physics) a rate of decrease in velocity
  34. diffraction
    process by which light changes passing through a narrow slit
  35. direction
    relation between something and the course on which it moves
  36. distance
    the size of the gap between two places
  37. drag
    the phenomenon of resistance to motion
  38. elasticity
    the tendency of a body to return to its original shape
  39. electric
    using or providing the flow of charge through a conductor
  40. electric charge
    the quantity of unbalanced electricity in a body (either positive or negative) and construed as an excess or deficiency of electrons
  41. electric current
    a flow of electricity through a conductor
  42. electrical
    using or providing or producing or transmitting or operated by electricity
  43. electrical circuit
    an electrical device that provides a path for electrical current to flow
  44. electrical energy
    energy made available by the flow of electric charge through a conductor
  45. electricity
    a physical phenomenon that can produce light, heat and power
  46. electromagnet
    a temporary magnet made by coiling wire around an iron core
  47. electromagnetic
    pertaining to or exhibiting magnetism produced by electric charge in motion
  48. electromagnetic radiation
    radiation consisting of waves of energy associated with electric and magnetic fields resulting from the acceleration of an electric charge
  49. electron
    an elementary particle with negative charge
  50. emission
    the act of causing to flow forth
  51. emit
    give off, send forth, or discharge
  52. energy
    the capacity of a physical system to do work
  53. equilibrium
    a stable situation in which forces cancel one another
  54. field
    space around a radiating body within which it exerts force
  55. force
    influence that results in motion, stress, etc. when applied
  56. free fall
    the ideal motion of something subject only to gravity
  57. frequency
    the number of occurrences within a given time period
  58. friction
    the resistance when a body is moved in contact with another
  59. fulcrum
    the pivot about which a lever turns
  60. gear
    a toothed wheel that engages another toothed mechanism
  61. geothermal energy
    energy derived from the heat in the interior of the earth
  62. gravitational force
    the force of attraction between all masses in the universe
  63. gravity
    the force of attraction between all masses in the universe
  64. heat
    a form of energy transferred by a difference in temperature
  65. hertz
    unit of frequency with a periodic interval of one second
  66. hydroelectric
    of or relating to or used in the production of electricity by waterpower
  67. hydroelectricity
    electricity produced by water power
  68. impact
    the striking of one body against another
  69. incandescence
    light emission by a body as its temperature is raised
  70. inclined plane
    a simple machine for elevating objects
  71. inductor
    an electrical device (typically a conducting coil) that introduces inductance into a circuit
  72. inertia
    the tendency of something to stay in rest or motion
  73. insulate
    surround with material to protect from heat, cold, or noise
  74. insulation
    reduction of the transmission of sound, heat, or electricity
  75. insulator
    a material with little electrical or thermal conductivity
  76. intensity
    the amount of energy transmitted
  77. interaction
    the transfer of energy between elementary particles
  78. ion
    a particle that is electrically charged positive or negative
  79. kinetic energy
    the mechanical energy that a body has by virtue of motion
  80. law of conservation of energy
    the fundamental principle of physics that the total energy of an isolated system is constant despite internal changes
  81. lever
    a simple machine giving a mechanical advantage on a fulcrum
  82. lift
    the component of the aerodynamic forces acting on an airfoil that opposes gravity
  83. light
    electromagnetic radiation that can produce visual sensation
  84. load
    weight to be borne or conveyed
  85. loudness
    the magnitude of sound (usually in a specified direction)
  86. luminescence
    the emission of light without heat
  87. machine
    a device for overcoming resistance by applying force
  88. magnet
    a device that attracts iron and produces lines of force
  89. magnetic
    of or relating to or caused by attraction for iron
  90. magnetic force
    attraction for iron
  91. magnetic pole
    either of two points where the lines of force of the Earth's magnetic field are vertical
  92. magnetism
    attraction for iron
  93. magnitude
    the property of relative size or extent
  94. mass
    the property of a body that causes it to have weight
  95. matter
    that which has mass and occupies space
  96. mechanical energy
    energy in a mechanical form
  97. medium
    an intervening substance through which something is achieved
  98. metal
    a chemical element or alloy that is usually a shiny solid
  99. microwave
    a short electromagnetic wave
  100. model
    a hypothetical description of a complex entity or process
  101. molecule
    the simplest structural unit of an element or compound
  102. momentum
    the product of a body's mass and its velocity
  103. motion
    the act of changing location from one place to another
  104. negative charge
    the state of having a surplus of electrons
  105. neutral
    having no net electric charge
  106. Newton's first law
    a body remains at rest or in motion with a constant velocity unless acted upon by an external force
  107. Newton's second law
    the rate of change of momentum is proportional to the imposed force and goes in the direction of the force
  108. Newton's third law
    action and reaction are equal and opposite
  109. nonrenewable
    that can not be renewed
  110. nucleus
    the positively charged dense center of an atom
  111. open circuit
    an incomplete electrical circuit in which no current flows
  112. parallel circuit
    a closed circuit in which the current divides into two or more paths before recombining to complete the circuit
  113. particle
    a body having finite mass but negligible dimensions
  114. peak
    the highest point of something
  115. pendulum
    an apparatus in which an object is mounted to swing freely
  116. permanent magnet
    a magnet that retains its magnetism after being removed from a magnetic field
  117. pitch
    the high or low quality of a sound
  118. pivot
    axis consisting of a shaft supporting something that turns
  119. positive charge
    the state of having a deficiency of electrons
  120. potential energy
    energy stored by a body or system by virtue of its position
  121. power
    (physics) the rate of doing work
  122. prism
    optical device used to deviate a beam or invert an image
  123. projectile
    impelling or impelled forward
  124. proton
    a stable particle with positive charge
  125. pulley
    a wheel with a groove in which a rope can run
  126. radiation
    energy transmitted in the form of rays or waves or particles
  127. ratio
    relation with respect to comparative quantity or magnitude
  128. reaction
    the opposite force when a force is applied to a body
  129. reflection
    the phenomenon of a wave being thrown back from a surface
  130. refraction
    the change in direction of a propagating wave
  131. renewable
    capable of being replaced
  132. repel
    cause to move back by force or influence
  133. resistance
    any mechanical force that tends to slow or oppose motion
  134. resistor
    an electrical device that resists the flow of electrical current
  135. scattering
    the physical process in which particles are deflected haphazardly as a result of collisions
  136. screw
    a simple machine with a threaded cylindrical rod and hole
  137. 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
  138. series circuit
    a circuit having its parts connected serially
  139. sight
    the ability to see; the visual faculty
  140. simple machine
    a device for overcoming resistance at one point by applying force at some other point
  141. slope
    the property of a line that departs from the horizontal
  142. solar energy
    energy from the sun that is converted into thermal or electrical energy
  143. solar heater
    a heater that makes direct use of solar energy
  144. solar radiation
    radiation from the sun
  145. sound
    mechanical vibrations transmitted by an elastic medium
  146. sound wave
    (acoustics) a wave that transmits sound
  147. spectrum
    an ordered array of the components of an emission or wave
  148. speed
    a rate at which something happens
  149. static electricity
    electricity produced by friction
  150. strain
    deformation of a body under the action of applied forces
  151. stress
    (physics) force that produces strain on a physical body
  152. surface
    the outer boundary of an artifact or a material layer
  153. switch
    device for making or breaking the connections in a circuit
  154. system
    a group of independent elements comprising a unified whole
  155. temperature
    the degree of hotness or coldness of a body or environment
  156. tension
    a stress that produces an elongation of a physical body
  157. terminal
    a contact on a device at which current enters or leaves
  158. thermal
    relating to or associated with heat
  159. thermal equilibrium
    a state in which all parts of a system are at the same temperature
  160. thrust
    the force used in pushing
  161. time
    the fourth coordinate required to specify a physical event
  162. transfer
    the act of moving something from one form to another
  163. transformation
    the act of changing in form or shape or appearance
  164. transmission
    fraction of radiant energy that passes through a substance
  165. transmit
    serve as the medium for sending something
  166. transverse
    extending or lying across, in a crosswise direction
  167. vacuum
    the absence of matter
  168. velocity
    distance traveled per unit time in one direction
  169. vibration
    (physics) a regular periodic variation in value about a mean
  170. visible
    capable of being seen or open to easy view
  171. visible light
    (physics) electromagnetic radiation that can produce a visual sensation
  172. vision
    the ability to see
  173. volt
    a unit for measuring the force of an electric current
  174. voltage
    difference in electrical charge between points in a circuit
  175. watt
    a unit of power equal to 1 joule per second
  176. wave
    (physics) a movement up and down or back and forth
  177. wavelength
    distance between successive crests of a periodic disturbance
  178. wedge
    something solid that can be pushed between two things
  179. weight
    the vertical force exerted by a mass as a result of gravity
  180. 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)
  181. 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
  182. wind power
    power derived from the wind (as by windmills)
  183. work
    a manifestation of energy
Created on February 23, 2017 (updated April 20, 2017)

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