Definition:Electric Potential

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An electric potential is the amount of work needed to move a unit of electric charge from a given reference point to a specific point in an electric field without producing an acceleration.

The reference point is usually either Earth or a point at infinity, although any point can be used.

Electric potential is a scalar quantity.


The usual symbol used to denote the electric potential on a body is $v$.


The dimension of measurement of electric potential is $\mathsf M \mathsf L^2 \mathsf T^{−3} \mathsf I^{−1}$.


The SI unit of electric potential is the volt $\mathrm V$.

Also known as

An electric potential is also known as:

  • electric field potential
  • potential drop or potential difference
  • electrostatic potential.

In common parlance, an electric potential is referred to as voltage, from the fact that it is usually specified in volts.

Some sources also use this term, but this is deprecated on $\mathsf{Pr} \infty \mathsf{fWiki}$.

Also see