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ERIC Number: EJ1124186
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017-Jan
Pages: 2
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0031-921X
Terms vs. Concepts--The Case of Weight
Taibu, Rex
Physics Teacher, v55 n1 p34-35 Jan 2017
Terminological and conceptual issues surrounding the definition of scientific terms have bothered teachers and students for many years. Some terms such as "energy" are not even usually defined, although they appear in different contexts of scientific communication, and others such as "weight" have debatable definitions, and for this reason the term "weight" is a great example to demonstrate general issues regarding terms and concepts. The term "weight" is defined in different ways, e.g., as the gravitational force or operationally as the force exerted by the body on its support. In an inertial situation, the magnitude of the gravitational force is equal to that of the support force. However, the two meanings are distinct when the object is in an accelerating situation (e.g., an accelerating elevator or on the surface of a rotating planet). Apart from these dichotomous definitions of weight, there are further language problems associated with each gravitational and operational definition of weight. This paper demonstrates these issues and asserts that arguing for which definition of weight is correct is not a viable approach to solve the language issue. The paper proposes an alternative route to deal with language issues facing weight and other related terms.
American Association of Physics Teachers. One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740. Tel: 301-209-3300; Fax: 301-209-0845; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A