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Torque vs. Torsion: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on January 8, 2024
Torque is a measure of the force causing an object to rotate, whereas torsion refers to the action of twisting or the state of being twisted, especially of one end of an object relative to the other.

Key Differences

Torque is a concept in physics that describes the rotational equivalent of linear force, specifically the force that causes an object to rotate about an axis. On the other hand, torsion is the stress or strain produced in a body when it is twisted around its axis.
The magnitude of torque is calculated as the product of force and the distance from the rotation axis (lever arm), and it's a vector quantity. In contrast, torsion refers to the action or the result of twisting, often involving the application of torque, but it focuses on the effect of the twisting on the material or object.
In engineering, torque is crucial in designing machinery and vehicles, as it determines how effectively a force causes rotational motion. Torsion, however, is a factor in material science and structural engineering, as it deals with the deformation and stress on materials due to twisting forces.
Torque is a fundamental aspect in dynamics, determining how fast an object will spin or stop spinning under a given force. Torsion is more about the internal reaction of materials when subjected to torque, affecting their mechanical properties.
Torque and torsion are related, as torque can cause torsion, they address different aspects: torque is about the cause of rotation, and torsion is about the effect of twisting forces on objects or materials.

Comparison Chart


Force causing an object to rotate
Twisting of an object by applied torque


Measure of rotational force
Stress or strain due to twisting


Product of force and lever arm
Degree of twist and material properties

Role in Engineering

Essential in machinery and vehicle design
Important in material science and structural integrity

Related to

Dynamics and rotational motion
Mechanical properties and deformation of materials

Torque and Torsion Definitions


Rotational force applied to an object.
The engine's torque determines the car's acceleration.


A measure of how much an object is twisted.
The torsion in the spring controls its recoil.


The product of force and distance from the axis of rotation.
Engineers calculate torque to design efficient motors.


The action of twisting or the state of being twisted.
The torsion on the bridge's cables is carefully monitored.


Measure of the tendency of a force to rotate an object about an axis.
Higher torque in a drill means more turning power.


Stress or strain on materials due to twisting forces.
Torsion tests help determine the strength of metal rods.


A twisting force that causes rotation.
The torque applied to the bolt secured it tightly.


The twist produced in an object by applying torque.
Torsion in the shaft was caused by uneven rotational forces.


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.


The reaction of a material when subjected to torque.
Measuring torsion is vital in assessing material durability.


A turning or twisting force.


The act of twisting or turning.


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


The condition of being twisted or turned.


To impart torque to.


The stress or deformation caused when one end of an object is twisted in one direction and the other end is held motionless or twisted in the opposite direction.


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)


The act of turning or twisting, or the state of being twisted; the twisting or wrenching of a body by the exertion of a lateral force tending to turn one end or part of it about a longitudinal axis, while the other is held fast or turned in the opposite direction.


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


(mechanics) That force with which a thread, wire, or rod of any material returns, or tends to return, to a state of rest after it has been twisted; torsibility.


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


(surgery) The stopping of arterial haemorrhage in certain cases, by twisting the cut end of the artery.


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


The act of turning or twisting, or the state of being twisted; the twisting or wrenching of a body by the exertion of a lateral force tending to turn one end or part of it about a longitudinal axis, while the other is held fast or turned in the opposite direction.


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


That force with which a thread, wire, or rod of any material, returns, or tends to return, to a state of rest after it has been twisted; torsibility.


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


A tortuous and twisted shape or position;
They built a tree house in the tortuosities of its boughs
The acrobat performed incredible contortions


A twisting force


A twisting force


A vector quantity representing rotational effect.
Adjusting torque is crucial for balancing rotating systems.


What does torque measure in a car engine?

It measures the engine’s rotational force.

Is high torque always desirable in vehicles?

It's desirable for better acceleration and pulling power.

What role does torsion play in mechanical springs?

It determines the spring's ability to recoil.

How does torsion affect building structures?

It impacts their integrity under twisting forces.

Can torque exist without causing torsion?

Yes, if there's no resistance to the rotational force.

Does increasing torque always increase speed?

Not always, as it depends on other factors like resistance.

How do engineers calculate torque?

By multiplying force by the lever arm distance.

What happens when a material undergoes too much torsion?

It can lead to material failure or permanent deformation.

Does torsion only apply to solid materials?

Primarily, though it can be considered in complex systems too.

Is torque important in bicycle design?

Yes, particularly in gearing and pedal efficiency.

What is a torsion bar?

A bar resisting torsion, used in vehicle suspension systems.

Can torque affect the steering of a car?

Yes, especially in high-powered vehicles.

How is torsion measured in materials?

Through torsion testing to assess material strength and flexibility.

How does torsion impact the design of a shaft?

It influences the shaft’s diameter and material to prevent twisting.

What is the unit of torque?

It's commonly measured in Newton-meters (Nm).

Can electric motors generate high torque?

Yes, they can be designed for high-torque applications.

Can torsion be beneficial in some applications?

Yes, like in torsion bars for suspension systems.

How does torque relate to rotational equilibrium?

It must be balanced for rotational equilibrium.

Is torsion a concern in aircraft design?

Yes, particularly in the design of propellers and wings.

Is torsion important in the design of bridges?

Absolutely, particularly for cable-stayed and suspension bridges.
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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