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Torque vs. Force: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on January 4, 2024
Torque is a measure of the rotational force on an object, while force is a push or pull acting on an object, affecting its motion or shape.

Key Differences

Torque is the rotational equivalent of linear force, representing how much a force acting on an object causes that object to rotate. Force, in contrast, refers to a push or pull exerted on an object, affecting its state of motion or rest.
Force is a fundamental concept in physics, described by Newton's laws, and it can cause an object to accelerate, decelerate, or change its direction. Torque, however, specifically causes rotational acceleration of an object.
The magnitude of torque depends on the force applied and the distance from the pivot point (moment arm) where the force is applied. In comparison, the impact of force depends solely on its magnitude and direction, irrespective of a pivot.
Torque is measured in Newton-meters (Nm) in the SI system, indicating the force applied and the distance from the rotation axis. Force is measured in Newtons (N), representing the mass of the object and the acceleration it undergoes.
An everyday example of torque is turning a wrench, where force applied at a distance from a pivot point generates rotational motion. Force, on the other hand, is seen when pushing a door to open it, where the motion is linear.

Comparison Chart


Rotational effect of a force.
Push or pull acting on an object.


Newton-meters (Nm).
Newtons (N).

Effect on Objects

Causes rotational motion.
Causes linear motion or changes shape.


Depends on force and distance from pivot point.
Depends on magnitude and direction only.

Measurement Consideration

Includes moment arm distance.
Does not consider point of application.

Torque and Force Definitions


Torque is the product of force and the perpendicular distance to the rotation axis.
Increasing the handle length increased the torque for turning the screw.


Force is an influence that changes the motion of an object.
The force of the wind pushed the sailboat forward.


Torque in machinery determines the rotational power output.
The engine's torque dictates its effectiveness in heavy vehicles.


Force can also refer to strength or energy as an attribute of physical action.
She exerted a great force to lift the heavy box.


Torque also refers to the ability to overcome rotational inertia.
The high torque was crucial for starting the large fan blades.


Force in physics is quantified as mass times acceleration.
The force of the falling rock increased as it gained speed.


Torque is the twisting force that causes rotation.
The torque applied by the wrench easily loosened the bolt.


Force can be a push or pull acting upon an object.
He applied a strong force to open the jammed door.


The measure of a force's tendency to produce torsion or rotation about an axis, equal to the product of the force vector and the radius vector from the axis of rotation to the point of application of the force; the moment of a force.


Gravitational force is an attraction between masses.
Earth's gravitational force keeps us grounded.


A turning or twisting force.


The capacity to do work or cause physical change; energy, strength, or active power
The force of an explosion.


A collar, a necklace, or an armband made of a strip of twisted metal, worn by the ancient Celts and Germans.


Power made operative against resistance; exertion
Use force in driving a nail.


To impart torque to.


A rotational or twisting effect of a force; a moment of force, defined for measurement purposes as an equivalent straight line force multiplied by the distance from the axis of rotation (SI unit newton metre or Nm; imperial unit [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pound-foot_(torque) pound-foot] or lb·ft, not to be confused with the foot pound-force, commonly "foot-pound", a unit of work or energy)


A tightly braided necklace or collar, often made of metal, worn by various early European peoples.


To make something rotate about an axis by imparting torque to it.


A collar or neck chain, usually twisted, especially as worn by ancient barbaric nations, as the Gauls, Germans, and Britons.


That which tends to produce torsion; a couple of forces.


A turning or twisting; tendency to turn, or cause to turn, about an axis.


A twisting force


Torque refers to the rotational force applied to an object.
The motor's high torque rotated the heavy machinery.


Can torque exist without force?

No, torque is a result of force applied at a distance from a rotation point.

What is the formula for torque?

Torque is calculated as force times the perpendicular distance from the pivot point.

What is the primary difference between torque and force?

Torque causes rotational motion, while force causes linear motion or changes shape.

Is torque a vector quantity?

Yes, torque is a vector quantity, having both magnitude and direction.

What is a moment arm in torque?

A moment arm is the perpendicular distance from the pivot point to the line of action of the force.

How is force related to acceleration?

Force is directly proportional to acceleration, as stated in Newton's second law.

Can force act without contact?

Yes, gravitational and magnetic forces act at a distance without contact.

What is static torque?

Static torque occurs when the force does not produce motion, but there is a twisting effect.

What role does force play in Newton's laws of motion?

Force is central to Newton's laws, causing objects to move or remain at rest.

What are common units for measuring torque?

Torque is commonly measured in Newton-meters (Nm).

How does the angle of force application affect torque?

The effectiveness of torque is greatest when the force is applied perpendicular to the moment arm.

What is meant by rotational inertia?

Rotational inertia is the resistance of an object to change its rotational motion.

What is kinetic energy in relation to force?

Kinetic energy is the energy of motion, directly related to the force that causes this motion.

Can torque be applied in different directions?

Yes, torque can cause clockwise or counterclockwise rotation, depending on the direction of the applied force.

How does force affect an object's speed?

Force can increase, decrease, or change the direction of an object's speed.

Is it easier to open a door by pushing near the hinges or the handle?

It's easier near the handle because it provides a larger moment arm, thus more torque.

Does force always result in motion?

Not always, as balanced forces can result in no motion.

What is the effect of a larger moment arm on torque?

A larger moment arm increases the torque for the same amount of force.

Can the same force produce different amounts of torque?

Yes, depending on the distance from the pivot point and the angle of application.

Can torque change an object's rotational speed?

Yes, torque can increase or decrease an object's rotational speed.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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