Types of Motion: Definition & Examples

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Types of Motion

Let us consider, that you are sitting on your sofa watching TV, think about whether you are in motion or at rest. Clearly, you are at rest. But let us re-evaluate the situation, we all live on the earth and it is continuously moving, so are you in a state of motion or at rest? Finding the answer to such perplexing questions can be confusing. Before you gear up to find the answer to such complex questions, you must gather thorough knowledge about various types of motion. Here is a blog that aims to elucidate the same with examples that can help you in various competitive and entrance exams.

What is Motion? 

The free movement of a body with respect to time is known as motion. For example-  the fan, the dust falling from the carpet, the water that flows from the tap, a ball rolling around, a moving car etc. Even the universe is in continual motion. Are all these motions the same? Is the motion of a pendulum the same as that of a moving car or train? There are various types of motions that are happening around us and they can be basically distinguished on the basis of:

  • Time 
  • Speed
  • Distance
  • Path 

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Types of Motion

Courtesy: Letstute

As per physics and mechanics, there are mainly 4 types of motion, i.e.

  • Rotary Motion: A special type of motion in which the object is on rotation around a fixed axis like, a figure skater rotating on an ice rink.
  • Oscillatory Motion: A repeating motion in which an object continuously repeats in the same motion again and again like a swing.
  • Linear Motion: A one-dimensional motion on a straight line, like an athlete running on a straight track.
  • Reciprocating Motions: A repetitive and continuous up and down or back and forth motion like a needle in a sewing machine.

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There are also different other types of motion as per directions or as per state of motion.

Types of Motion as per State of Motion

  • Uniform Motion 
  • Non-Uniform Motion

Types of Motion as Per Directions are:

  • One Dimensional Motion
  • Two Dimensional Motion
  • Three Dimensional Motion

Some other types of motion are:

  • Translational Motion
  • Periodic Motion 
  • Circular Motion 

Here is a chart on types of motion:

Types of Motion Chart
Courtesy: Tes.com

Other types of Motion?

Source, Don’t Memorise, Youtube

Below we have explained the major 7 types of motion as per Physics:

Oscillatory Motion

Oscillatory motion is simply elaborated as the repeated motion that an object does by repeating the same movement again and again. The oscillatory motion would keep on moving forever when there is an absence of friction but in our real world, the motion eventually stops by coming to equilibrium.

Some of the best examples of Oscillatory Motion are:

  • A swinging swing
  • The motion of a pendulum
  • A boat tossing up and down a river
  • The tuning fork
Oscillatory Motion
Courtesy: Technology Student

Rotational Motion

Rotational motion can be defined as when an object moves along its axis and all the parts of it move for a different distance in a given period of time. Thus, if an object is under rotational motion all of its parts will move different distances in the same interval of time. 

For Example The game merry-go-round, blades of a fan, blades of a windmill etc. 

Rotational Motion

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Translational Motion

When all the parts of an object move the same distance in a given time is known as transitional motion. For example, a cycle moving on a track, a man walking on the road, birds flying in the sky.

Translational Motion

Mainly, there are two types of translation motion which are explained below: 

Curvilinear Motion  Rectilinear Motion 
When an object moving in translational motion follows a curved path it is known as Curvilinear motion.  An object moving in translation motion opts a straight-line path, then it is known as Rectilinear motion.
Example: A stone thrown up in the air   Example: A train moving on a straight track or a car moving on a straight road

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Periodic Motion 

Periodic Motion Examples
Courtesy: Quora

A motion that repeats itself after equal intervals of time is known as periodic motion. Commonly, the objects under this motion are mostly in the to and fro motion. 

Give two examples of periodic motion:

  • A moving pendulum
  • Hands of a working clock
  • the earth rotating on its axis, etc. 
Periodic Motion

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Circular Motion 

When an object is constantly moving in circular a path it is called circular motion. It circular motion, the speed of the object should be constant.

A few examples of circular motion are- Movement of the earth on its axis, a bicycle or a car moving on a circular track of park, the motion of the moon around the earth etc.


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Linear Motion 

Linear motion can be defined as the movement of a body on a straight line without any deviation. 

Important examples of linear motion are: An athlete running on a straight track of a park, a bullet shot from a pistol always moves in a straight line, etc. 

Linear Motion

Uniform Motion 

A body is said to be in a state of uniform motion when it covers an equal amount of distance in equal intervals of time. In such cases, if we represent the motion on the graph, it would be a straight line.

Common examples of uniform motion are: A car moving on a straight road at a steady speed, a flying aeroplane at a set height at a constant speed, etc

Uniform Motion
Uniform Motion 

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Non-Uniform Motion 

Non-uniform motion can be defined as when a given body is covering unequal distances in a set and given intervals of time. If you will represent the path of a body moving in non-uniform motion on a graph, it will be a curved line. 

Examples of non-uniform motion are- a man walking on the road, a freely falling body, a train moving at various speed limits, etc.

Non-Uniform Motion
Non-Uniform Motion

Practice Questions

Now that we have studied the prominent types of motion along with their examples, let us go through some simples questions and test our knowledge of this topic-

  1. What type of motion will the body have if the line of the motion of the body is curved-
    • a. Vibratory Motion
    • b. Translational Motion
    • c. Rectilinear Motion
    • d. Circular Motion
  2. In which type of motion the body revolves around its own axis-
    • a. Circular Motion
    • b. Rectilinear Motion
    • c. Rotatory Motion
    • d. Oscillatory Motion
  3. Name and define the type of motion in which the object has a constant speed but is still accelerating.
  4. The distorted motion of an object is also known as __________ motion.
  5. Name and define the type of motion exhibit by the object in the given below picture-

6. Identify the type of motion in the given below image-

  1. Give a few examples from the objects around us stating that an object can have multiple types of motion at one point of time.
  2. Name the motion possessed by these objects- blades of an electric fan in motion, a spinning top, hands of a clock, vehicle on a straight road, the earth around the sun and pendulum of a wall clock.
  3. What are stationery objects?
  4. Differentiate between periodic motion and non-periodic motion.


  1. b
  2. b
  3. Uniform Circular Motion
  4. Random Motion
  5. Oscillatory Motion
  6. Circular Motion
  7. Motion of Earth (Periodic, Circular and Rotational Motion), Movement of a Pendulum (Linear and Periodic Motion) and Movement of Cycle in a Straight Line (Uniform, Linear and Circular Motion).
  8. Rotatory motion, rotatory motion, oscillatory motion, uniform circular and periodic motion, rectilinear motion,  oscillatory motion and periodic motion.
  9. The objects which are at a continuous state of rest are known as Stationery Objects.
  10. The motion which gets repeated after a regular interval of time is known as Periodic motion. For example- Movement of the earth. On the other hand, the motion which does not repeat itself after regular intervals of time is known as Non-Periodic Motion.


What are the main types of motion?

The major types of motion in physics are:
– Rotatory motion
– Oscillatory motion
– Uniform motion
– Periodic motion
– Rectilinear motion
– Non-Uniform motion
– Translational motion

Give an example of a body/motion which may appear to be moving for one person and stationary for the other.

Passengers on a moving bus see that trees, buildings, and people on the side of the road appear to be going backwards. A person standing on the side of the road notices that the bus (together with its occupants) is moving forward. However, each passenger on a moving bus or train monitors his or her fellow passengers who are seated and not moving. As a result, we can determine that motion is relative.

What is the shape of the path of a body when it is in uniform motion?

The shape of the path of a body when it is in uniform motion is a straight line.

What is the most common type of motion?

General motion is the most common type of motion in sport and physical exercise.

Is it true that all motion is related Why?

All motions are relative to a reference frame. Saying that a body is at rest, or that it is not in motion, simply means that it is being described in relation to a frame of reference that is moving along with it.

We hope now you can differentiate between different types of motion! If you have any queries regarding careers, courses and universities abroad, let Leverage Edu be at your service. Book a free 30-minute session with us and get your doubts resolved!

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