TOEFL IBT – Physics

Vocabulary is promordial in order to improve your TOEFL score. Remember, Preparation is the key to succeed !

This vocabulary will be useful if you ever take a physics course in school, for expanding your English vocabulary, or especially for any number of English language exams you may take. Here we will look at the most commonly used words in the field, along with their French translations.


the rate at which the velocity of a body changes with time

We achieved this acceleration over a distance of less than one millimeter.


balanced force

equal force acting on an object in different directions

The balanced forces are inward gravitational force and an outward force due to the pressure gradient within the star.

la force équilibrée

centripetal force

a force that causes an object to move in a cycle

The centripetal force demanded by the curved motion is also shown above.

la force centripète


the capacity of a physical system to do work

Its energy could change the rate at which the universe expands.



push or pull on an object

Although it survived, gravitational forces shattered it into several pieces.

la force

free fall

when the only force acting on an object is gravity

All these objects are in free fall, not zero gravity.

la chute libre


the force between two rubbing surfaces

The Teflon reduces the friction of the skin against the sock.

la friction


the force that pulls objects towards each other

A sink drains because gravity pulls the water through the pipes.

la gravitation


Newton’s first law of motion that states that an object in motion stays in motion

But inertia, however, has it leaning in that direction.


kinetic energy

the mechanical energy that a body has by virtue of its motion

When transferred to the arrow it is referred to as kinetic energy.

l’énergie cinétique

Law of Conservation of Energy

the law that states that energy cannot be created or destroyed but can be changed from one form to another

In the table scenario, I apply the Law of Conservation of Energy.

la loi des économies d’énergies


the product of a body’s mass and its velocity

Yet the momentum for an alternative force seems durable this time.



the state in which one object’s distance from another is changing

Sandy sets the wheels in motion, but then backs out.

le mouvement

net force

the overall force of an object

But the tension is not the same as the net force.

la force nette

Newton’s second law of motion

the acceleration of an object depends on the mass of the object and the amount of force applied

Newton’s second law of motion states that F=ma, or force equals mass times acceleration.

la seconde loi de mouvement de Newton

Newton’s third law of motion

for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction

While he did not specify that these forces be equal, it was still an early version of Newton’s third law of motion.

la troisième loi de mouvement de Newton

potential energy

the mechanical energy that a body has

Fuel contains potential energy realized by burning it to drive an engine.

l’énergie potentielle


the distance an object travels per unit of time

The increased speed induces disturbances in the Earth’s magnetosphere.

la vitesse

terminal velocity

the maximum speed possible while free falling

The terminal velocity has nothing to do with the bullet’s initial velocity.

la vitesse finale


a speed in any direction

The stunt is controlled by a computer that manages wind velocity.

la vitesse

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