Archimedes' principle states that the upward buoyant force that is exerted on a body immersed in a fluid, whether fully or partially submerged, is equal to the weight of the fluid that the body displaces.[1] Archimedes' principle is a law of physics fundamental to fluid mechanics. It was formulated by Archimedes of Syracuse.[2]


A floating ship's weight Fp and its buoyancy Fa (Fb in the text) must be equal in size.

In On Floating Bodies, Archimedes suggested that (c. 246 BC):

Any object, totally or partially immersed in a fluid or liquid, is buoyed up by a force equal to the weight of the fluid displaced by the object.

Archimedes' principle allows the buoyancy of any floating object partially or fully immersed in a fluid to be calculated. The downward force on the object is simply its weight. The upward, or buoyant, force on the object is that stated by Archimedes' principle, above. Thus, the net force on the object is the difference between the magnitudes of the buoyant force and its weight. If this net force is positive, the object rises; if negative, the object sinks; and if zero, the object is neutrally buoyant—that is, it remains in place without either rising or sinking. In simple words, Archimedes' principle states that, when a body is partially or completely immersed in a fluid, it experiences an apparent loss in weight that is equal to the weight of the fluid displaced by the immersed part of the body(s).


Consider a cuboid immersed in a fluid, its top and bottom faces orthogonal to the direction of gravity (assumed constant across the cube's stretch). The fluid will exert a normal force on each face, but only the normal forces on top and bottom will contribute to buoyancy. The pressure difference between the bottom and the top face is directly proportional to the height (difference in depth of submersion). Multiplying the pressure difference by the area of a face gives a net force on the cuboid ⁠ ⁠—  the buoyancy ⁠ ⁠—  equaling in size the weight of the fluid displaced by the cuboid. By summing up sufficiently many arbitrarily small cuboids this reasoning may be extended to irregular shapes, and so, whatever the shape of the submerged body, the buoyant force is equal to the weight of the displaced fluid.

The weight of the displaced fluid is directly proportional to the volume of the displaced fluid (if the surrounding fluid is of uniform density). The weight of the object in the fluid is reduced, because of the force acting on it, which is called upthrust. In simple terms, the principle states that the buoyant force (Fb) on an object is equal to the weight of the fluid displaced by the object, or the density (ρ) of the fluid multiplied by the submerged volume (V) times the gravity (g)[1][3]

We can express this relation in the equation:

where (Fa in the figure) denotes the buoyant force applied onto the submerged object, denotes the density of the fluid, represents the volume of the displaced fluid and is the acceleration due to gravity. Thus, among completely submerged objects with equal masses, objects with greater volume have greater buoyancy.

Suppose a rock's weight is measured as 10 newtons when suspended by a string in a vacuum with gravity acting on it. Suppose that, when the rock is lowered into the water, it displaces water of weight 3 newtons. The force it then exerts on the string from which it hangs would be 10 newtons minus the 3 newtons of buoyant force: 10 − 3 = 7 newtons. Buoyancy reduces the apparent weight of objects that have sunk completely to the sea-floor. It is generally easier to lift an object through the water than it is to pull it out of the water.

For a fully submerged object, Archimedes' principle can be reformulated as follows:

then inserted into the quotient of weights, which has been expanded by the mutual volume

yields the formula below. The density of the immersed object relative to the density of the fluid can easily be calculated without measuring any volume is