a collision in which the total kinetic energy of the colliding bodies or particles is not the same after the collision as it was before (opposed to elastic collision).
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Words nearby inelastic collision
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020
Scientific definitions for inelastic collision
[ ĭn′ĭ-lăs′tĭk ]
A collision between bodies in which the total kinetic energy of the bodies is not conserved. In an inelastic collision, the total momentum of the two bodies remains the same, but some of the initial kinetic energy is transformed into heat energy internal to the bodies, used up in deforming the bodies, or radiated away in some other fashion. Inelastic collisions, such as the collision of two balls of clay, tend to result in the slowing and sometimes the joining together of the colliding bodies. Compare elastic collision.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.