Difference Between Speed and Acceleration

Every object or person is movable to some extent although exceptions are always there. the movements might seem obvious but they have science behind it.

A branch of science is physics plays an important role in understanding the movements of objects or people.

For example, the acceleration can be seen most probably in cars in day to day life but the meaning of acceleration is different in physics that is more technical with giving the reasons behind them.

There are few terms which are used interchangeably in regular life but they are different from each other in technical terms, for example, acceleration, speed, race, or velocity, etc., resemble each other in regular life but in technical terms, they are different from each other

Speed vs Acceleration

The main difference between speed and acceleration is that speed is the distance covered in units of time and acceleration is the rate of change in speed. Both of them might get confusing but with the reasoning, they get simple to understand.

Speed vs Acceleration


Comparison Table Between Speed and Acceleration

Parameters of comparisonSpeedAcceleration
Quantity typeScalar quantityVector quantity
TypesUniform, variable, average, and instantaneous speedUniform, non- uniform, and average acceleration
Factors determiningDistance and timeVelocity and time
Relation with motionRate of motionDirection and rate of motion


What is Speed?

Speed is the scalar quantity which gives the idea of how fast the object is moving, in more technical terms speed is the magnitude of change in the position of moving object. Speed has a unit, that is cm.s (CGS system) and m.s (SI system)

Speed is of four types, those are;

  1.  Uniform speed: when the object covers equal distance in equal interval of time is said to have a uniform speed.
  2. Variable speed: when the object covers different distances in equal intervals of time then the object is said in variable speed.
  3. Average speed: it can be defined as the uniform speed given by the ratio of total distance travelled by an object to the total time taken by the object.
  4. Instantaneous speed: when the speed of an object is variable then the speed of that object at any instant is said to be instantaneous speed.

Speed is determined by two factors: distance and time. The formula of speed is

S = D / T

  1. S – Speed
  2. D – Distance covered
  3. T – Time is taken

Speed is measured generally by distance-time graph for better understanding. Speed in vehicles is measured by speedometer whereas the distance is covered by the odometer. Seed can be fluctuating depending upon the person in case of vehicles driven.

Some examples of speed are; a car being driven at 60  km per hour, a cheetah runs 130 km per hour, the speed of writing of a person like writing one page in ten minutes is considered as the writing speed of a person, etc..


What is Acceleration?

Acceleration is defined as the rate of change in velocity of a moving object with respect to the time. Acceleration is said to be a vector quantity. Unit of acceleration is m/s.

Acceleration is of three types, those are;

  1. Uniform acceleration- it is the type of acceleration in which the velocity is uniform with the change in time. This is possible in case of circular motions.
  2. Non-uniform acceleration – it is the type of acceleration in which velocity is changing with respect to the time.
  3. Average acceleration – it is the type of acceleration in which the total change in velocity in a given interval is divided by the total time taken for the change.

Acceleration is determined by few factors those are; change in velocity and time and it can be measured with help of formula, which is –

Acceleration = (final velocity)- (initial velocity) / time

Acceleration is often explained with the help of graphs better, it is often confused with velocity or speed, but it is different from both of them.

Some examples of acceleration are; when the car is speed, or when the car is slow down, or the car taking a turn, falling from a bridge, climbing the bridge, fruits falling from a tree, any object moving in north, south, west, or east direction,etc..


Main Differences Between Speed and Acceleration

  1. Speed is the distance covered in the unit of time whereas acceleration is the rate of change in the speed.
  2. Speed is the scalar quantity on contrary acceleration is the vector quantity.
  3. Speed is determined by distance and time whereas acceleration is determined by the velocity and time.
  4. Speed can remain constant in every case but acceleration is not uniform in every case except for circular motion.
  5. Speed is related to the rate of motion only whereas acceleration is related to the direction of motion as well along with the rate of motion.
  6. Speed is calculated with displacement whereas acceleration is calculated with velocity. 
Difference Between Speed and Acceleration



Speed and acceleration are different from each other though acceleration is somewhat dependent on speed. Both of them are related to the motion of moving objects.

Both of them are measurable with different formulas and have the same SI units. Speed and acceleration are often used interchangeably in regular life but they are entirely different in terms of physics.

Speed and acceleration work differently with respect to gravity.

There are some laws as well that determine the speed and acceleration of moving objects.  


  1. https://e-space.mmu.ac.uk/3518/1/williams%20-%20specificity%20of%20acceleration.pdf
  2. https://ascelibrary.org/doi/abs/10.1061/(ASCE)0733-947X(2002)128:2(182)
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