Add MEEF to my Favorites

Main Page

About Us





Contact us








Projects Archive



Site Stats

Submit Release

Visitors in
Free Firefox

MEEF - Middle East Engineering - Structural Glossaries - previous page


Acceleration: A vector quantity equal to the rate that velocity changes with time.

Applied force: see external force.

Axial force: A system of internal forces whose resultant is a force acting along the longitudinal axis of a structural member or assembly.

Bending moment: A system of internal forces whose resultant is a moment. This term is most commonly used to refer to internal forces in beams.

Body force: An external force acting throughout the mass of a body. Gravity is a body force. An inertial force is a body force.

Brittle: A brittle structure or material exhibits low ductility, meaning that it exhibits very little inelastic deformation before complete failure.

Center of Gravity: The location of the resultant of gravity forces on an object or objects: sometimes called center of mass.

Centroid: Similar to the concept of center of gravity, except that it applies to a two dimensional shape rather than an object. For a given shape, the centroid location corresponds to the center of gravity for a thin flat plate of that shape, made from a homogeneous material.

Component (of a vector): Any vector can be expressed as a collection of vectors whose sum is equal to the original vector. Each vector in this collection is a component of the original vector. It is common to express a vector in terms of components which are parallel to the x and y axes.

Concentrated force: A force considered to act along a single line in space. Concentrated forces are useful mathematical idealizations, but cannot be found in the real world, where all forces are either body forces acting over a volume or surface forces acting over an area.

Concentrated load: An external force which a concentrated force.

Connection: Connection is similar to the concept of support, except that connection refers to a relationship between members in a structural model. A connection restrains degrees of freedom of one member with respect to another. For each restrained degree of freedom, there is a corresponding force transferred from one member to the other; forces associated with unrestrained degrees of freedom are zero. See fixed connection and pin connection.

Couple: A system of forces composed of two equal forces of opposite direction, offset by a distance. A couple is statically equivalent to a moment whose magnitude equals the magnitude of the force times the offset distance.

Deflection: This word usually carries the same meaning as displacement, although it is sometimes used in place of deformation.

Deformation: A change in the shape of an object or material.

Degree of Freedom: A displacement quantity which defines the shape and location of an object. In the two dimensional plane, a rigid object has three degrees of freedom: two translations and one rotation. In three dimensional space, a rigid object has six degrees of freedom (three translations and three rotations).

Displacement: A change in position. A displacement may be a translation a rotation or a combination of those.

Distributed load: An external force which acts over a region of length, surface, or area: essentially any external force which is not a concentrated force.

Ductility: Ductility generally refers to the amount of inelastic deformation which a material or structure experiences before complete failure. Quantitatively, ductility can be defined as the ratio of the total displacement or strain at failure, divided by the displacement or strain at the elastic limit.

Dynamic equilibrium: Equilibrium which includes inertial forces.

Elastic: A material or structure is said to behave elastically if it returns to its original geometry upon unloading.

Elastic energy: The energy stored in deformed elastic material (e.g., a watch spring). Elastic energy equals where k is the stiffness, and is the associated deflection. Elastic energy is sometimes called elastic potential energy because it can be recovered when the object returns to its original shape; see potential energy.

Elastic limit: The point beyond which the deformations of a structure or material are no longer purely elastic.

E-Modulus: see modulus of elasticity.

Energy: A property of a body related to its ability to move a force through a distance opposite the force's direction; energy is the product of the magnitude of the force times the distance. Energy may take several forms: see kinetic energy, potential energy, and elastic energy.

Equilibrium: An object is in equilibrium if the resultant of the system of forces acting on it has zero magnitude. See static equilibrium and dynamic equilibrium.

External force: A surface force or body force acting on an object. External forces are sometimes called applied forces.

Fixed connection: In two dimensions, a fixed connection between two members restrains all three degrees of freedom of the connected member with respect to one another. A fixed connection is sometimes called a rigid connection or moment-resisting connection.

Fixed support: In two dimensions, a fixed support restrains three degrees of freedom: two translations and one rotation.

Flexibility: Flexibility is the inverse of stiffness. When a force is applied to a structure, there is a displacement in the direction of the force; flexibility is the ratio of the displacement divided by the force. High flexibility means that a small load produces a large displacement.

Flexure: Bending deformation, i.e., deformation by increasing curvature.

Force: A directed interaction between two objects that tends to change the momentum of both.Since a force has both direction and magnitude, it can be expressed as a vector

Force System: see system of forces.

Funicular: A funicular shape is one similar to that taken by a suspended chain or string subjected to a particular loading.

Gravity: An attractive force between two objects; each object accelerates at a rate equal to the attractive force divided by the object's mass. Objects near the surface of the earth tend to accelerate toward the earth's center at a rate of ; this value is often called the gravitational constant and denoted as

Inelastic: Not surprisingly, the opposite of elastic. A deformation of a structure or material under load is described as inelastic when the deformation remains after the load is removed. The term plastic is often used with the same meaning.

Inertia: The tendency of an object at rest to remain at rest, and of an object in motion to remain in motion.

Inertial Force: A fictitious force used for convenience in visualizing the effects of forces on bodies in motion. For an accelerating body, the inertial force is considered as a body force whose resultant acts at the object's center of gravity in a direction opposite the acceleration. The magnitude of the force is the mass of the object times the magnitude of the acceleration.

Internal force: Forces which hold an object together when external forces or other loads are applied. Internal forces are sometimes called resisting forces since they resist the effects of external forces.

Internal hinge: see pin connection.

Kinetic Energy: The energy of a moving mass; equal to . Where m is mass and v is the magnitude of the velocity.

Linear: A structure is said to behave linearly when its the deformation response is directly proportional to the loading (i.e. doubling the load doubles the displacement response). For a material, linear means that the stress is directly proportional to the strain.

Line of Action: The line of action of a force is the infinite line defined by extending along the direction of the force from the point where the force acts.

Linear Elastic: A force-displacement relationship which is both linear and elastic. For a structure, this means the deformation is proportional to the loading, and deformations disappear on unloading. For a material, the concept is the same except strain substitutes for deformation, and stress substitutes for load.

Load: An external force. The term load is sometimes used to describe more general actions such as temperature differentials or movements such as foundation settlements.

Mass: A property of an object measured by the degree that it resists acceleration.
Magnitude: A scalar value having physical units.

Modulus of elasticity: The proportional constant between stress and strain for material with linear elastic behavior: calculated as stress divided by strain. Modulus of elasticity can be interpreted as the slope of the stress-strain graph. It is usually denoted as E, sometimes known as Young's Modulus Y, or E-Modulus.

Moment: The resultant of a system of forces causing rotation without translation. A moment can be expressed as a couple

Moment of inertia: Moment of inertia has two distinct but related meanings: 1) it is a property of a an object relating to the magnitude of the moment required to rotate the object and overcome its inertia. 2) A property of a two dimensional cross section shape with respect to an axis, usually an axis through the centroid of the shape.

Moment Release: see pin connection.

Moment resisting-connection: see fixed connection.

Normal strain: Strain measuring the intensity of deformation along an axis. Normal strain is usually denoted by . Average normal strain between two points is calculated as , where L is the original distance between the points, and L is the change in that distance. Normal strain is often simply called strain.

Normal stress: Stress acting perpendicular to an imaginary plane cutting through an object. Normal stress has two senses: compression and tension. Normal stress is often simply called stress.

Pin connection: In two dimensions, a pin connection restrains two translation degrees of freedom but does not restrain rotation. Since the rotation degree of freedom is unrestrained at a pin connection, it transfers no moment.

Pin support: In two dimensions, a pin support restrains two translation degrees of freedom but does not restrain rotation. When considering reaction forces, a pin support is usually considered to have two force components: one each about the x and y axes respectively.

Plastic: see inelastic.

Potential Energy: The energy stored in a raised object (e.g. the weights in a grandfather clock). Potential energy equals mgh, where m is mass, g is the acceleration of gravity, and h is the vertical distance from a reference location. It is called potential energy because the energy can be regained when the object is lowered. This type of potential energy is sometimes called gravitational potential energy in order to distinguish it from elastic potential energy: see elastic energy.

Pressure: Pressure is a similar idea to stress, the force intensity at a point, except that pressure means something acting on the surface of an object rather than within the material of the object. When discussing the pressure within a fluid, the meaning is equivalent to stress.

Racking: The distortion of a rectangular shape to a skewed parallelogram.
Reaction: A reaction is a force exerted by a support on an object: sometimes called support reaction. Using this definition, a reaction is an external force.

Resisting force: see internal force.

Resultant: The resultant of a system of forces is a single force or moment whose magnitude, direction, and location make it statically equivalent to the system of forces.

Rigid: An idealized concept meaning something which does not deform under loading. In fact, all objects deform under loading, but in modelling it can be useful to idealize very stiff objects as rigid.

Rigid connection: see fixed connection.

Roller support: In two dimensions, a roller support restrains one translation degree of freedom.

Rotation: Motion of an object where the path of every point is a circle or circular arc. A rotation is defined by a point and vector which determine the axis of rotation. The direction of the vector is the direction of the axis and the magnitude of the vector is the angle of rotation.

Scalar: A mathematical entity which has a numeric value but no direction (in contrast to a vector).

Section Modulus: A property of a cross sectional shape, which depends on shape, and orientation. Section modulus is usually denoted S, and S = I/c, where I = moment of inertia about an axis through the centroid, and c is the distance from the centroid to the extreme edge of the section.

Shear: An system of internal forces whose resultant is a force acting perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of a structural member or assembly: sometimes called shear force.

Shear stress: Stress acting parallel to an imaginary plane cut through an object.

Shear strain: Strain measuring the intensity of racking in the material. Shear strain is measured as the change in angle of the corners of a small square of material.

Shear modulus: The ratio of shear stress divided by the corresponding shear strain in a linear elastic material.

Stability: Stability is best defined as the opposite of instability, which is the occurrence of large structural deformations which are not the result of material failure.

Static equilibrium: Equilibrium which does not include inertial forces.

Statically determinate: A statically determinate structure is one where there is only one distribution of internal forces and reactions which satisfies equilibrium. In a statically determinate structure, internal forces and reactions can be determined by considering nothing more than equations of equilibrium.

Statically equivalent: Two force systems are statically equivalent when their resultants are equal. Physically, this means that the force systems tend to impart the same motion when applied to an object; note that the distribution of resulting internal forces in the object may be different.

Statically indeterminate: A statically indeterminate structure is one where there is more than one distribution of internal forces and/or reactions which satisfies equilibrium.

Stiffness: This is a general term which may be applied to materials or structures. When a force is applied to a structure, there is a displacement in the direction of the force; stiffness is the ratio of the force divided by the displacement. High stiffness means that a large force produces a small displacement. When discussing the stiffness of a material, the concept is the same, except that stress substitutes for force, and strain substitutes for displacement; see modulus of elasticity.

Strain: The intensity of deformation at a point in an object. See normal strain and shear strain.

Strength: A very general term that may be applied to a material or a structure. In a material, strength refers to a level of stress at which there is a significant change in the state of the material, e.g., yielding or rupture. In a structure, strength refers to a level of level of loading which produces a significant change in the state of the structure, e.g., inelastic deformations, buckling, or collapse.

Stress resultant: A system of forces which is statically equivalent to a stress distribution over an area.

Stress: The intensity of internal force acting at a point in an object. Stress is measured in units of force per area. See shear stress and normal stress.

Structural model: An idealization for analysis purposes of a real or conceived structure. A structural model includes boundaries limiting the scope of the analysis. Supports occur at these boundaries, representing things which hold the structure in place.

Support: A support contributes to keeping a structure in place by restraining one or more degrees of freedom. In a structural model, supports represent boundary entities which are not included in the model itself, e.g., foundations, abutments, or the earth itself. For each restrained translation degree of freedom at a support, there is a corresponding reaction force; for each restrained rotation degree of freedom, there is a reaction moment.

Surface force: A force applied to the surface of an object.

System of Forces: One or more forces and/or moments acting simultaneously.

Translation: Motion of an object where the path of every point is a straight line.

Transmissibility: The principle stating that a force has the same external effect on an object regardless of where it acts along its line of action.

Vector: A mathematical entity having a magnitude and a direction in space.

Velocity: A vector quantity equal to the rate that position changes with time.

Weight: The force on an object resulting from gravity.

Yield stress: A material loaded beyond its yield stress, no longer exhibits linear elastic behavior. Metals, particularly mild steel, generally have a very well defined yield stress compared to other materials. Yield stress is sometimes called yield strength.

Yield strain: A material deformed beyond its yield strain, no longer exhibits linear elastic behavior. See yield stress.



Advertise | Articles | Bulletin | Contacts | CyberShow  | Events | Jobs | Home | Projects  | Sitemap | Stats


Copyright 2006 Middle East Economic Engineering Forum | RAK Free Zone | UAE | Tel/Fax: +971 50 374 0617 All rights reserved.


This site is best viewed using Internet Explorer 4 or higher

Website Created: Mar. 7th. 06  - Add MEEF to my Favorites