What Is Horizontal Displacement: Different Aspects, Problems

As we have studied two types of displacement that is vertical displacement and horizontal displacement. In this post, we’ll look at what is horizontal displacement and how it works. 

In simple words, if we start moving on x axis and reach a certain point, the shortest length between initial and final point on x-axis is called Horizontal displacement. Or we can say that displacement on x- axis is called horizontal displacement.    

A projectile motion in a horizontal axis generated by an external factor is referred to as horizontal motion. The vertical and horizontal aspects of a projectile are normal and independent of each other for a little range. 

Throughout a projectile’s trajectory, the horizontal component of its velocity stays unchanged. This is due to the fact that there is no horizontal force acting on the projectile once it has been launched. As a result, the missile moves horizontally at the same speed. The following equation is used to compute the distance travelled by a projectile: 

Distance = Speed x time 

what is horizontal displacement
Image credit: Snappy goat
What is horizontal displacement

What is horizontal displacement in projectile motion? 

To the point at x-axis, where an object can reach is called horizontal displacement of an object in projectile motion.

Horizontal displacement depends on starting velocity of entity. Even if we launch an object at two different angles of projection, the horizontal displacement or reach of projectile in both cases will be same.  

A projectile is a type of motion in which an entity goes along a parabolic, radially balanced path. The track of an entity is the route that it takes. The only time projectile movement exists is if some force is applied at the start of the trajectory, following which gravity is the only source of interference. 

Horizontal displacement examples 

Every displacement on x-axis is example of horizontal displacement. Some of examples are given below; 

The minimum gap between a car’s beginning and final positions on a straight and smooth road. 

Shortest distance between initial position and final position of a boat moving on water in river. 

Shortest distance between initial position and final position of a bullet that has been shot from a gun.

Horizontal displacement at maximum height 

As we know horizontal displacement is the displacement on x-axis so vertical component of displacement will be zero and that is why maximum height will also be zero.   

Horizontal displacement of pendulum 

A pendulum is a basic harmonic oscillator for tiny displacements. A simple pendulum is defined as a device having a little mass hanging on a light wire or thread, also known to simply the pendulum bob. Arc length in simple harmonic motion is known as displacement of pendulum.

Horizontal displacement of a projectile

The projectile’s range is determined by its horizontal displacement. As we know, gravity only operates vertically, hence there is zero acceleration in this axis. The initial launch angle is one of the most important aspects of projectile speed and trajectory. This angle might be anywhere from 0 to 90 degrees.

The angle through which the item is thrown determines the object’s reach, altitude, and duration of flying when in projectile movement. Illustrates different routes for the same item fired at distinct release angles with the same beginning velocity. The bigger the initial launch angle, as shown in the diagram, the closer the item gets to maximum height and the longer the flight period. With a launch angle of up to 45 degrees, you’ll get the most range. 

Horizontal displacement of center of mass 

When a system’s center of mass is originally at rest, it will stay unchanged when there is no external force, i.e., the displacement of the center of mass will be zero. When mass m is moved x distance towards right or left, the system will be free from rest and the distance x covered by system will be displacement. 

A projectile should be thrown in a flat path, not from an inclination, to achieve horizontal motion. The projectile’s velocity changes, but the path in which it is fired ought to normal to the Earth ‘s face. 

A steady upward gravitational force operates upon that projectile, independent of the horizontal force, and is employed to release it. It implies that the projectile’s overall flying time will constantly be the same. By altering the initial velocity and force used to propel the projectile, the projectile can travel larger or less ranges in the same period of time. 

A projectile should be thrown at a specific angle for lengthy trip, such as those of a rocket, and the lateral and vertical portions must be specified in order for the projectile to go a greater distance. Movement in two aspects is sometimes known as motion in a plane. Circular motion and projectile motion are instances of two-dimensional movements. 

‘m” is a benchmark placed at the source of two polar coordinates, the X-axis and the Y-axis, for the study of two-dimensional projectile motion. One of the finest instances of movement in a planes is projectile movement. Since gravitational does not apply any horizontal force, the ball’s horizontal motion stays unchanged as it descends. 

Since there is no force, the lateral acceleration is zero (axe = 0) . The ball is moving steadily to the right at a speed of 5 meters per second.

Describe unique properties of projectile motion 

The movement of an entity hurled (projected) into the air is known as projectile motion. After the initial force that propels the item into the air, it is only subjected to the pull of gravity. The item is known as a projectile, and the course it takes is known as a trajectory. When an item goes through the air, it meets a frictional force called air resistance, which slows it down.

Air resistance has a large impact on trajectory motion, although it is often overlooked in beginning physics owing to the complexity of calculating it. 

The basic concept of projectile movement is that horizontal and vertical motions are separate, implying both don’t interfere with each other. 

A cannonball in uncontrolled fall is contrasted to a cannonball launched horizontally in projectile action. As it is observed, the cannonball in unrestricted fall drops at the same rate as the cannonball in projectile movement. Take note that the vertical displacements will not match up exactly if the cannon fired the ball with just about any vertical component to the velocity. 

We may study vertical and horizontal movements individually, along perpendicular axes, since they are distinct. To achieve this, we divide deflection into two parts: one that moves along the horizontal axis and the other that moves along the vertical axis. 


Problem 1  

For an object in a projectile motion with a steady velocity of 40m/s and a flight time of 60 seconds, calculate the value of an object’s horizontal displacement. 



Velocity of obje30m/s

Time of flight = 60s

We can calculate horizontal displacement by putting the given values in the displacement formula.  

Formula given for horizontal displacement of projectile motion   

ΔX= v0Xt

ΔX= 40 x 60= 2400 m

Problem 2   

Determine the horizontal displacement of an object launched at a 45 m/s velocity for 20 seconds. 



Velocity of particle= 45m/s

Time of flight = 20s

By entering the above data into the displacement formula, we can determine total horizontal displacement. 

Formula given for horizontal displacement of projectile motion  

ΔX= v0Xt

ΔX= 45 x 20= 900 m

Problem 3  

Compute the overall displacement of an item that was launched at a 20m/s velocity. After 30 seconds in the air, the item strikes the earth at a speed of 40 meters per second. 



Initial velocity of object= 20m/s

Final velocity of object= 40m/s

Time of flight= 30 seconds  

By entering the above data into the overall displacement formula, we can determine total horizontal displacement. 

Formula for total horizontal displacement is  

s= ut + 1/2at2

s= 20\times30 + 1/2(0.66)(30)2

s= 897 m

Frequently asked questions |FAQs 

Q. What effect does wind have on projectile motion? 

The wind may have a significant impact on a projectile’s velocity and trajectory.

When there is no wind, the plane’s course is determined only by gravity. If the wind blows in a similar way as the airplane, the top right represents the route it will travel. 

Q. How to calculate horizontal displacement? 

When we know the beginning velocity and duration of flight of an item shot in the x-direction, we may compute its horizontal displacement.

If we plug in the numbers for beginning velocity and flight duration into the formula. The horizontal displacement induced by the object’s shot velocity is calculated by  

ΔX= v0Xt

Where ΔX is horizontal displacement   

v0 is velocity of object  

t is time of flight.

Q. Is there a steady horizontal motion? 

A projectile’s lateral velocity is static (it never changes).

There exists an upward acceleration produced by gravity; its value is 9.8 m/s/s, down. Every moment, a projectile’s vertical velocity varies by 9.8 m/s. A projectile’s horizontal movement is unaffected by its vertical movement. 

Q. What is the term for vertical displacement? 

Vertical displacement refers to the area covered in a vertical direction, leading to elevation and collapse. The movement of rock strata can reveal data about how and why the Earth’s lithosphere evolves over time. 

Q. What is the difference between vertical and horizontal displacement? 

 The projectile achieves its greatest altitude when its vertical velocity hits zero, after which gravity takes control and accelerates the item downward. The horizontal displacement of the projectile is governed by its reach, which is dictated by the object’s beginning velocity. 

Q. What is the reach and flying time of a projectile? 

The vertical y-component of the starting velocity, as well as the ball’s starting and ending y-coordinates, can be used to forecast the total time-of-flight.

The entire time-of-flight and the x-component of the beginning velocity can be used to forecast the reach. When you start the test, you’ll need to figure out two equations: one for the distance and one for the entire duration of the flight. Then, using your equations, determine the reach and time-of-flight numbers. You’ll run the experiment once you’ve calculated the predicted numbers to check if you got it right! 



I am Sakshi Sharma, I have completed my post-graduation in applied physics. I like to explore in different areas and article writing is one of them. In my articles, I try to present physics in most understanding manner for the readers.

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