Difference between speed and velocity

The current article is dedicated to finding the difference between speed and velocity. Here we will look at the speed vs. velocity comparison in tabular form along with the differences between them.

Speed and velocity are some of the basic concepts of physics. These concepts are introduced under kinematics. These are the terms that people use almost interchangeably in their day to day life.

In physics, both the terms speed and velocity have differences between them which cannot be ignored.

Speed Vs. Velocity

  • Velocity is defined as the rate of change of displacement whereas speed is defined as the rate of change in distance with respect to time.
  • Velocity is a vector quantity, both magnitude and direction (same as that of displacement) are required to define it whereas speed is a scalar quantity. Only the magnitude is required to define the speed.
  • SI unit of velocity and speed is m/s. Speed and velocity both have the same unit.
  • Now sometimes students ask questions like

Is average speed = average velocity?

The answer is no, the average speed is not equal to the average velocity. This is because

Average Speed = Total distance/Total time

Average Velocity = Total displacement/Total time

Just like both displacement and distance are different, average speed and average velocity are also different for example- Motion around a circular track.

Speed Vs. Velocity tabular form





Rate of change of distance

Rate of change of displacement


Scalar quantity

Vector quantity


Can never be negative or zero

Can be negative, zero or positive


Velocity without direction

Velocity is the speed with direction


It may or may not be equal to the velocity

A body may possess different velocities but the same speed


Never decreases with time. For a moving body, it is never zero

Velocity can decrease with time. For a moving body it can be zero.


SI unit is m/s

SI unit is m/s

Speed Vs. Velocity Graphical form

I hope you are now aware of the basic difference between speed and velocity. 

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