Difference between Force and Pressure

Updated on July 17, 2015

Force and pressure are two distinct words that obviously bear very different meanings, as is going to be expounded in this article.

Definitions

Force is a term commonly used in physics classes and it refers to a push or a pull that is exerted upon an object as a result of physical contact between the two objects.

Force
Force

According to the Merriam Webster dictionary on the other hand, force can be defined as a violent power that is exerted upon an object. This definition however falls short of considering slight contacts between two objects that result in the movement of one of the objects as this is still considered as force, regardless of the magnitude of the push.

Force is measured by multiplying mass by acceleration.

Pressure
Pressure

Pressure, on the other hand, refers to a persistent physical force that is exerted upon or against one object by another object that is in contact with it, as seen in the picture below.

Merriam Webster defines pressure as the weight of force that is produced when an object pushes against another object.

Pressure is measured using the formula force divided by the area on which it is acting on.

Comparison chart

ForcePressure
Measured in units called NewtonsMeasurement unit is the Pascal
Instrument of measurement is a dynamometerInstrument of measurement is a Manometer
Has both magnitude and directionHas magnitude but no direction
Has sub categories: normal, gravity and applied forcesHas no sub-categories

Force vs Pressure

What is the difference between force and pressure?

  • The International standards measure unit for pressure is the Pascal, otherwise represented scientifically as (Pa). Force, on the other hand, is measured using an international standards unit known as the Newton.
  • Force and pressure are measured using different instruments. Force is measured using an instrument called a dynamometer whereas pressure is measured using an instrument known as a manometer.
  • Pressure is a scalar quantity as it has magnitude but no direction, while force is a vector quantity because it has both magnitude and direction.
  • Force can be classified as applied force, force of gravity and normal force whereas pressure remains pressure and has no category of types. Applied force is a push or a pull that is exerted on an object by another; force of gravity is the natural force that draws any object that is thrown to the sky towards the center of the earth whereas normal force is the magnitude of push that is brought about by an object’s own weight.

Video

In order to have a better understanding about force and pressure, watch this video:

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