Ask Difference

Energy vs. Matter — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on September 21, 2023
Energy is the capacity to do work or cause change, while matter is the physical substance that occupies space and possesses mass.
Energy vs. Matter — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Energy and Matter

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Key Differences

Energy and matter are foundational concepts in physics. Energy is intangible and represents the capacity to perform work, be it moving an object, producing heat, or emitting light.
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Sep 21, 2023
On the other hand, matter refers to substances composed of atoms or molecules, encompassing everything we can touch, see, and feel. It's the building block of our physical universe, forming solids, liquids, gases, and plasma.
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Sep 21, 2023
Energy exists in many forms, such as kinetic, potential, thermal, or chemical, to name a few. These forms are interconnected and can be converted from one to another, demonstrating energy's transformative nature.
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Sep 21, 2023
Matter, conversely, is categorized by its state and composition. Elements, compounds, and mixtures represent various classifications of matter based on their atomic or molecular makeup.
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Sep 21, 2023

Comparison Chart

Definition

Capacity to do work or cause change
Physical substance with mass and volume
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Tangibility

Intangible
Tangible
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Forms/States

Kinetic, potential, thermal, etc.
Solid, liquid, gas, plasma
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Conversion

Can be transformed between different forms
Can change states (e.g., solid to liquid)
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Conservation

Conserved in an isolated system
Mass is conserved in chemical reactions
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Compare with Definitions

Energy

The property of an object which can be transferred or transformed.
The bouncing ball lost energy with each successive bounce.
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Matter

Any substance that occupies space and has mass.
Water is a state of matter that flows.
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Energy

A source of power, such as electricity or fuel.
The city is exploring renewable energy sources.
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Matter

Solid particles suspended in a liquid or gas.
There was a strange matter floating in the pond.
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Energy

Vitality or intensity of expression.
The dancer performed with incredible energy.
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Matter

In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touched are ultimately composed of atoms, which are made up of interacting subatomic particles, and in everyday as well as scientific usage, "matter" generally includes atoms and anything made up of them, and any particles (or combination of particles) that act as if they have both rest mass and volume.
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Energy

Capacity to do work.
Wind turbines convert wind energy into electrical energy.
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Matter

Physical substance in general, as distinct from mind and spirit; (in physics) that which occupies space and possesses rest mass, especially as distinct from energy
The structure and properties of matter
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Energy

Measurable quantity in physics, related to action and force.
The conservation of energy principle is fundamental in mechanics.
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Matter

A subject or situation under consideration
Financial matters
A great deal of work was done on this matter
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Energy

In physics, energy is the quantitative property that must be transferred to a body or physical system to perform work on the body, or to heat it. Energy is a conserved quantity; the law of conservation of energy states that energy can be converted in form, but not created or destroyed.
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Matter

The reason for distress or a problem
What's the matter?
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Energy

The capacity for work or vigorous activity
Who has the energy to climb that trail?.
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Matter

The substance or content of a text as distinct from its style or form.
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Energy

Also energies Exertion of vigor or power
A project requiring a great deal of time and energy.
Devoted her energies to writing songs.
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Matter

Be important or significant
It doesn't matter what the guests wear
What did it matter to them?
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Energy

Vitality and intensity of expression
A speech delivered with energy and emotion.
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Matter

(of a wound) secrete or discharge pus.
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Energy

(Informal) A nonphysical force or quality perceived as inhering in a particular place, person, or situation
Was turned off by the group's negative energy.
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Matter

That which occupies space and has mass; physical substance.
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Energy

Usable heat or power
Each year Americans consume a high percentage of the world's energy.
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Matter

A type of such substance
Organic matter.
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Energy

A source of usable power, such as petroleum or coal.
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Matter

Discharge or waste, such as pus or feces, from a living organism.
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Energy

The capacity of a physical system to do work.
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Matter

(Philosophy) In Aristotelian and Scholastic use, that which is in itself undifferentiated and formless and which, as the subject of change and development, receives form and becomes substance.
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Energy

A form, amount, or level of this capacity
"a searing beam of 30 trillion protons, with energies up to 50 million electronvolts" (Science News).
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Matter

The substance of thought or expression as opposed to the manner in which it is stated or conveyed.
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Energy

The impetus behind all motion and all activity.
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Matter

A subject of concern, feeling, or action
Matters of foreign policy.
A personal matter.
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Energy

The capacity to do work.
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Matter

Trouble or difficulty
What's the matter with your car?.
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Energy

(physics) A quantity that denotes the ability to do work and is measured in a unit dimensioned in mass × distance²/time² (ML²/T²) or the equivalent.
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Matter

An approximated quantity, amount, or extent
The construction will last a matter of years.
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Energy

An intangible, modifiable force (often characterized as either 'positive' or 'negative') believed in some New Age religions to emanate from a person, place or thing and which is (or can be) preserved and transferred in human interactions; shared mood or group habit; a vibe, a feeling, an impression. aura.}}
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Matter

Something printed or otherwise set down in writing
Reading matter.
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Energy

The external actions and influences resulting from an entity’s internal nature (ousia) and by which it is made manifest, as opposed to that internal nature itself; the aspect of an entity that can affect the wider world and be apprehended by other beings.
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Matter

To be of importance
"Love is most nearly itself / When here and now cease to matter" (T.S. Eliot).
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Energy

A measure of how many actions a player or unit can take; in the fantasy genre often called magic points or mana.
Action points
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Matter

(uncountable) Material; substance.
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Energy

Internal or inherent power; capacity of acting, operating, or producing an effect, whether exerted or not; as, men possessing energies may suffer them to lie inactive.
The great energies of nature are known to us only by their effects.
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Matter

(physics) The basic structural component of the universe, usually having mass and volume.
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Energy

Power efficiently and forcibly exerted; vigorous or effectual operation; as, the energy of a magistrate.
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Matter

(physics) Matter made up of normal particles, not antiparticles.
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Energy

Strength of expression; force of utterance; power to impress the mind and arouse the feelings; life; spirit; - said of speech, language, words, style; as, a style full of energy.
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Matter

A kind of substance.
Vegetable matter
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Energy

Capacity for performing work.
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Matter

Material, especially in books or magazines.
He always took some reading matter with him on the plane.
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Energy

(physics) the capacity of a physical system to do work; the units of energy are joules or ergs;
Energy can take a wide variety of forms
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Matter

(philosophy) Aristotelian: undeveloped potentiality subject to change and development; formlessness. Matter receives form, and becomes substance.
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Energy

An exertion of force;
He plays tennis with great energy
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Matter

An affair, condition, or subject, especially one of concern or (especially when preceded by the) one that is problematic.
Is much the matter with the old plan?
Something is the matter with him.
State matters
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Energy

Enterprising or ambitious drive;
Europeans often laugh at American energy
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Matter

An approximate amount or extent.
I stayed for a matter of months.
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Energy

An imaginative lively style (especially style of writing);
His writing conveys great energy
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Matter

(obsolete) essence; pith; embodiment.
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Energy

A healthy capacity for vigorous activity;
Jogging works off my excess energy
He seemed full of vim and vigor
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Matter

(obsolete) (The) inducing cause or reason, especially of anything disagreeable or distressing.
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Energy

The federal department responsible for maintaining a national energy policy of the United States; created in 1977
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Matter

To be important.
The only thing that matters to Jim is being rich.
Sorry for pouring ketchup on your clean white shirt! - Oh, don't worry, it does not matter.
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Matter

To care about, to mind; to find important.
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Matter

To form pus or matter, as an abscess; to maturate.
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Matter

That of which anything is composed; constituent substance; material; the material or substantial part of anything; the constituent elements of conception; that into which a notion may be analyzed; the essence; the pith; the embodiment.
He is the matter of virtue.
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Matter

That of which the sensible universe and all existent bodies are composed; anything which has extension, occupies space, or is perceptible by the senses; body; substance.
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Matter

That with regard to, or about which, anything takes place or is done; the thing aimed at, treated of, or treated; subject of action, discussion, consideration, feeling, complaint, legal action, or the like; theme.
Son of God, Savior of men! Thy nameShall be the copious matter of my song.
Every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge.
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Matter

That which one has to treat, or with which one has to do; concern; affair; business.
To help the matter, the alchemists call in many vanities out of astrology.
Some young female seems to have carried matters so far, that she is ripe for asking advice.
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Matter

Affair worthy of account; thing of consequence; importance; significance; moment; - chiefly in the phrases what matter? no matter, and the like.
A prophet some, and some a poet, cry;No matter which, so neither of them lie.
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Matter

Inducing cause or occasion, especially of anything disagreeable or distressing; difficulty; trouble.
And this is the matter why interpreters upon that passage in Hosea will not consent it to be a true story, that the prophet took a harlot to wife.
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Matter

Amount; quantity; portion; space; - often indefinite.
Away he goes, . . . a matter of seven miles.
I have thoughts to tarry a small matter.
No small matter of British forces were commanded over sea the year before.
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Matter

Substance excreted from living animal bodies; that which is thrown out or discharged in a tumor, boil, or abscess; pus; purulent substance.
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Matter

That which is permanent, or is supposed to be given, and in or upon which changes are effected by psychological or physical processes and relations; - opposed to form.
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Matter

Written manuscript, or anything to be set in type; copy; also, type set up and ready to be used, or which has been used, in printing.
Waller, with Sir William Balfour, exceeded in horse, but were, upon the whole matter, equal in foot.
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Matter

To be of importance; to import; to signify.
It matters not how they were called.
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Matter

To form pus or matter, as an abscess; to maturate.
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Matter

To regard as important; to take account of; to care for.
He did not matter cold nor hunger.
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Matter

That which has mass and occupies space;
An atom is the smallest indivisible unit of matter
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Matter

A vaguely specified concern;
Several matters to attend to
It is none of your affair
Things are going well
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Matter

Some situation or event that is thought about;
He kept drifting off the topic
He had been thinking about the subject for several years
It is a matter for the police
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Matter

A problem;
Is anything the matter?
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Matter

(used with negation) having consequence;
They were friends and it was no matter who won the games
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Matter

Written works (especially in books or magazines);
He always took some reading matter with him on the plane
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Matter

Have weight; have import, carry weight;
It does not matter much
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Matter

Physical material of the universe, made of atoms.
Everything we touch is made of matter.
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Matter

A subject or situation under consideration.
The matter of the missing funds was quickly resolved.
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Matter

A reason, cause, or importance.
It's only a small sum of money; it doesn't matter.
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Common Curiosities

What is the primary function of energy in a system?

Energy provides the capacity to perform work or initiate change in a system.
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Can energy be created or destroyed?

Energy cannot be created or destroyed, only transformed (Law of Conservation of Energy).
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Is the amount of matter in a closed system always constant?

Yes, the mass of matter is conserved in a closed system.
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How is matter fundamentally structured?

Matter is composed of atoms or molecules.
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What's the relationship between energy and motion?

Energy can be in the form of kinetic energy, representing the energy of motion.
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Sep 21, 2023

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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