Document Type


Publication Date

May 2017


This article explores the origins of metaphorical language to describe energy by reviewing the historical development of the concept by physicists since the early 19th century. In addition to examples of historical and contemporary use of metaphors in academic writing, observable manifestations of energy are identified as the origin of energy “forms.” The historical- philosophical review and presentation of examples from contemporary physics literature contribute a disciplinary foundation to recent claims about the productiveness of physics learners’ use of metaphors and indicators to describe energy.


Copyright (2017) American Association of Physics Teachers. This article may be downloaded for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the American Association of Physics Teachers.
The following article appeared in the American Journal of Physics, Volume 85, Issue 6, 2017 and may be found at

Included in

Physics Commons