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Change in position of a body relative to another body or with respect to a frame of reference or coordinate system. Motion occurs along a definite path, the nature of which determines the character of the motion. Translational motion occurs if all points in a body have similar paths relative to another body. Rotational motion occurs when any line on a body changes its orientation relative to a line on another body. Motion relative to a moving body, such as motion on a moving train, is called relative motion. Indeed, all motions are relative, but motions relative to the Earth or to any body fixed to the Earth are often assumed to be absolute, as the effects of the Earth's motion are usually negligible. See alsoBrownian motion; periodic motion; simple harmonic motion; simple motion; uniform circular motion.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on motion, visit Britannica.com.