The distinction between centrifugal and centripetal force

On any object that rotates on a circular path, a force. It is directed to the center point of the circle described by the trajectory. This force is called centripetal.

Centrifugal force is often referred to as the inertial force or fictitious force. It is mainly used to refer to the forces associated with motion in non-inertial reference frame.

According to Newton's third law, every action has the opposite in direction and equal and opposite reaction. In this concept, the centrifugal force is a reaction to the action of the centripetal force.

Both forces are inertial, as arise only when the object moves. Also, they always appear in pairs and cancel each other. Therefore, in practice, they often can be neglected.

Examples of centrifugal and centripetal forces

If you take a rock and tie him to a rope and then start to spin the rope over your head, there is a centripetal force. It will act through the rope on the stone and not allow him to retire to a distance greater than the length of the rope as would happen with normal roll. The centrifugal force will act in the opposite way. It will be quantitatively equal and opposite in direction to the centripetal force. This force is greater the more massive a body moving along a closed path.

It is well known that the Moon rotates around the Earth in a circular orbit. The force of attraction that exists between Earth and the Moon is the result of the action of the centripetal force. The centrifugal force in this case is virtual and not really there. This follows from Newton's third law. However, despite the abstractness, the centrifugal force plays a very important role in the interaction of two celestial bodies. Thanks to the Earth and its moon is not moving away and not closer to each other, and move in stationary orbits. Without the centrifugal force they have long faced.


1. While the centripetal force is directed toward the center of the circle, the centrifugal opposite to it.

2. Centrifugal force is often called the inertial or fictitious.

3. The centrifugal force is always equal to the quantitative value and opposite in direction to the centripetal force.

5. The word "centripetal" was derived from Latin words. Centrum means center, and "petere" means "to search". The concept of "centrifugal" is derived from the Latin words "centrum" and "fugere" which means "to run".