Difference between Distance and Displacement

Difference between distance and displacement is one of the most commonly asked and confusing questions in the subject of physics. Also, questions like differentiate between distance and displacement are very common in the exams. Here, the key distance and displacement differences are given to help the students have a better understanding of these two topics.

To understand the differences, it is important to know their in-depth concepts thoroughly. By understanding the concepts of distance and displacement, understanding these differences will become easier. Visit Distance And Displacement to learn about these two topics in a detailed way.

Difference between Distance and Displacement

Sl. No.

Differentiating Property





The complete length of the path between any two points is called distance.

Displacement is the direct length between any two points when measured along the minimum path between them.






Direction Consideration

To calculate distance, direction is not considered.

To calculate displacement, direction is taken into consideration.



Distance is a scalar quantity as it only depends upon the magnitude and not the direction.

Displacement is a vector quantity as it depends upon both magnitude and direction.


Route Information

Distance gives the detailed route information that is followed while traveling from one point to another.

As displacement refers to the shortest path, it does not give complete information of the route.



Speed × Time

Velocity × Time


Possible Values

Distance can only have positive values.

Displacement can be positive, negative and even zero.



Distance is not indicated with an arrow.

Displacement is always indicated with an arrow.


Measurement in Non-straight Path

Distance can be measured along a non-straight path.

Displacement can only be measured along a straight path.


Path Dependence

Distance depends upon the path i.e. it changes according to the path taken.

Displacement does not depend upon the path and it only depends upon the initial and final position of the body.

These were the main distance and displacement differences that can help to distinguish these two thoroughly. These differences between distance and displacement in tabular form can also help the students to retain the points in a better way.

Apart from knowing the comparison between distance and displacement, it is also suggested to know about their related concepts thoroughly and have a proper understanding of the basics. Check the related articles below to learn additional topics related to displacement and distance.

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