Difference Between Mass and Matter

Mass vs Matter

Mass and matter are two commonly misinterpreted concepts. These are highly important concepts having a great value in fields such as physics, cosmology and astrophysics. In this article, we are going to discuss in depth what mass and matter are, their definitions, their similarities and differences.


Matter is a concept going back as far as ancient Greeks. Matter is a property of all physical objects. It has no proper scientific definition. The first close to real scientific theory of matter was put forward by Leucippus and Democritus in around early 400 BC. The Democritus theory says that the matter is not continuous, it is in the form of discrete particles. The non continuity of matter can be simply seen in incidences such as a solid dissolving. Matter can be categorized using many criteria. By physical form, it can be categorized as gas, liquid, solid, and plasma. By detection methods, it can be separated as normal matter and dark matter. By the type of the quantity measured, it can be divided into mass and waves. In normal sense, there is a common misconception that matter refers to the mass. Also,  mass can exist in the form of waves too. This is known as the wave particle duality. The total amount of mass existing in the universe is considered as contribution by both waves and matter combined. Matter and energy are transformable. Energy can be transformed into matter and vice verse. This relation is given by the famous equation E = mc2. This transformation also shows the similarity between matter and energy.


Mass can be divided into three different types; as inertial mass, active gravitational mass, and passive gravitational mass. Experimental data shows that all three quantities are same. Matter and energy are two forms of mass. The mass is measured in kilograms. The common misconception is that weight is measured in kilograms, but weight is actually measured in Newton. The weight is actually the amount of force acting on the mass. The kinetic energy, momentum, and the amount of acceleration due to a force applied on a body are all dependent on the mass of the body. Apart from day to day materials, things such as electromagnetic waves also have a mass. In relativity, there are two types of mass defined, they are rest mass and relativistic mass. The mass of an object doesn’t remain constant throughout a movement. The rest mass is the mass measured when the object is at rest. The relativistic mass is measured for a moving object. These two are nearly the same for speeds much less than the speed of light, but varies greatly when the speed approaches the speed of light. The rest mass of the electromagnetic waves is zero.

What is the difference between Mass and Mater?

- Matter is a form of mass.

- While all matter exhibit the characteristics of mass, not every mass exhibits the characteristics of matter.

- Matter is a poorly defined concept, while mass is scientifically, well developed concept.

- Mass is a measureable quantity, while the matter is not.

  • Shadowgirl25692

    thank you! i needed this for a project!   : )

    • Destiny Mohorcic

      i needed it to

  • Destiny Mohorcic

    thx for this i realy needed this for something for school hw