Explain briefly the difference between Centripetal and Centifugal force with illustrated examples and brief definition.

Asked by bneelaksha | 12th Mar, 2015, 02:31: PM

Expert Answer:

Centripetal Force

  • The force needed to make an object travel in a circular path is known as “centripetal force”.
  • This force is always directed towards the centre of circle at each point of its path.
  • Hence, for a body moving uniformly in a circular path, there must be a force to provide the centripetal force required for circular motion.


  • In an atom, an electron moves around the nucleus in a circular path for which the centripetal force is obtained from the electrostatic force of attraction on electron by the nucleus.
  • A planet moves around the sun in a nearly circular path for which the gravitational force of attraction on the planet by the sun provides the necessary centripetal force.
  • The moon moves around the earth in a circular path for which the gravitational force of attraction on the moon by the earth provides the centripetal force.


Centrifugal Force

  • The force acting on a body away from the centre of circular path is called the “centrifugal force”.
  • It is not a real force.
  • A force which really does not exist, but it is considered to describe a certain motion, is called fictitious force or virtual force.
  • Its magnitude is same as centripetal force. It is however not a reaction force of centripetal force, because both the forces acts on same body performing circular motion.


  • A bucket filled with water is swirled around. The water does not spill out of it due to centrifugal force acting on it away from the centre.
  • When a bus takes a sudden left turn, the passengers traveling in it get a push towards the right. This push is the centrifugal force.

Answered by Romal Bhansali | 12th Mar, 2015, 07:03: PM