A quick-reference guide to all physics symbols

Physics is the topic where we experience it in our daily lives knowingly or unknowingly. So, while performing basic or complex calculations in physics, we include physical quantities. These physical quantities are represented by notations/symbols to provide convenience to physics users for easy to use and remember.

These notations/symbols are simply known as symbols. These symbols may vastly differ since some physical quantities may have their first letter as a symbol or may have completely unrelated letters as a symbol. In some cases, the physical quantities may have Greek symbols as their symbols.

However, let’s see some of the physics symbols related to modern physics, thermal physics, mechanics, electricity and magnetism, waves and optics, space and time, Along with their names, physical quantity and S.I units.

The below table comprises a category-wise list of physics symbols.

Physics symbols related to modern physics

Physical Quantity  Symbol S.I Unit Scalar/Vector
Dose/Dose Absorbed D Gray scalar
Wave Function ψ(r,t), ψ(r)φ(t) Unitless vector
Work Function Φ Joule scalar
Effective Dose H Sievert scalar
Lorentz Factor/Lorentz Gamma Unitless scalar

Physics symbols related to thermal physics

Physical Quantity Symbol S.I Unit Scalar/Vector
Coefficient Of Performance Cop Unitless Scalar
Ways, Number Of Identical Microstates W Unitless Scalar
Entropy S Joule Per Kelvin Scalar
Internal Energy U Joule Scalar
Emissivity Ε Unitless Scalar
Thermal Conductivity K Watt Per Meter Kelvin Scalar
Heat Flow Rate P Watt Scalar
Number Of Particles N Unitless Scalar
Amount Of Substance N Mole Scalar
Latent Heat/Specific Latent Heat L Joule Per Kilogram Scalar
Specific Heat Capacity C Joule Per Kilogram Kelvin Scalar
Heat Q Joule Scalar
Volume Expansivity, Coefficient Of Volume Thermal Expansion B Inverse Kelvin Scalar
Linear Expansivity, Coefficient Of Thermal Expansion Α Inverse Kelvin Scalar
Temperature T Kelvin Scalar

Physics symbols related to mechanics

Physical Quantity Symbol S.I Unit Scalar/Vector
Velocity, Speed v Meter Per Second Vector
Acceleration a Meter Per Second Squared Vector 
Centripetal/Centrifugal Acceleration ac Meter Per Second Squared Vector
Acceleration Due To Gravity g Meter Per Second Squared Vector
Mass m Kilogram Scalar
Force F Newton  Vector
Force Due To Gravity/Weight Fg /W Newton  Vector
Normal Force Fn, N Newton  Vector
Force Of Friction Ff Newton  Vector
Coefficient Of Friction Unitless  Scalar
Momentum p Kilogram Meter Per Second Vector
Impulse J Newton Second Vector
Energy E Joule  Scalar
Kinetic Energy K Joule  Scalar
Potential Energy U Joule  Scalar
Gravitational Potential Vg Joule Per Kilogram  Scalar
Efficiency η Unitless Scalar
Power P Watt  Scalar
Rotational Speed, Rotational Velocity Radian Per Second Vector
Rotational Acceleration Radian Per Second Squared Vector
Torque Newton Meter  Vector
Moment Of Inertia I Kilogram Meter Squared Scalar
Angular Momentum L Kilogram Meter Squared Per Second Vector
Angular Impulse H Newton Meter Second Vector
Spring Constant k Newton Per Meter Scalar
Pressure p Pascal  Scalar
Stress Pascal Scalar
Shear Stress T Pascal Scalar
Density, Volume Mass Density Kilogram Per Cubic Meter  Scalar
Area Mass Density Kilogram Per Square Meter  Scalar
Linear Mass Density Kilogram Per Meter Scalar
Buoyancy FB, B Newton  Vector
Mass Flow Rate qm Kilogram Per Second Scalar
Volume Flow Rate qv Cubic Meter Per Second Scalar
Drag Or Air Resistance FD, R Newton  Vector
Drag Coefficient CD Unitless  Scalar
Viscosity Pascal Second Scalar
Kinematic Viscosity v Square Meter Per Second Scalar
Mach Number Ma Unitless  Scalar
Reynolds Number Re Unitless  Scalar
Froude Number Fr Unitless  Scalar
Young’s Modulus Of Elasticity E Pascal  Scalar
Shear Modulus Of Rigidity G Pascal  Scalar
Bulk Modulus Of Compression K Pascal  Scalar
Linear Strain Unitless Scalar
Shear Strain Unitless  Scalar
Volume Strain Unitless  Scalar
Surface Tension Newton Per Meter Scalar

Physics symbols related to electricity and magnetism 

Physical quantity  symbol S.I Unit Scalar/vector
Pointing vector, intensity S Watt per square meter  Vector
Energy density Joule per cubic meter  Scalar
Turns per unit length n Inverse meter  Scalar
Number of turns  N Unitless Scalar
Magnetic flux B Weber vector
Magnetic field  B Tesla Vector
Magnetic force  FB Newton Vector
Conductivity  Siemens per meter scalar
conductance G Siemens  scalar
Resistivity  Ohmmeter  scalar
Electric resistance/internal resistance R, r ohm scalar
Electric current I Ampere scalar
Dielectric constant ϵ Unitless scalar
Capacitance  C Farad scalar
Electromotive force (EMF) volt scalar
Voltage, electric potential  V Volt scalar
Electric potential energy UE Joule scalar
Electric flux E Newton meter squared per coulomb Vector 
Electric field  E Newton per coulomb/volt per meter Vector
Electrostatic force FE Newton Vector
Linear charge density  Kilogram per meter Scalar
Area charge density  Kilogram per square meter Scalar
Volume charge density Kilogram per cubic meter Scalar
Electric charge q, Q Coulomb Scalar 

For the quick guides of physics symbols related to space and time & waves and optics, visit the list of physics symbols. Here you can find all the physics symbols in detail.

All the physics symbols we have discussed here and included for quick reference cover almost all major physics symbols, which are up to date and helpful for that sudden grasping moment.

The bottom line 

Physics is not only that subject where we will learn only in school or colleges but also we live in this world which is filled with great physics examples and knowingly or unknowingly, we are the part of physics where gravity, tension, mass, weight, time, distance, force, energy, current are already part of us.

To understand physics, knowing about both subjects and taking real-life examples as us will help grasp the subject correctly. One important saying goes like “understanding the sentences are way different and far from understanding the essence and true meaning of the sentences”. 

So, to sum up, this quick guide is just for you so that you don’t confuse the Greek symbols. Just sit back and give a good reading and understanding of the Greek symbols and names to have at least the basic idea. But don’t forget to give a quick look for these symbols right before exams because you don’t want to lose significant grades for not having a quick look.


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