A newton is defined as 1 kg⋅m/s2 (it is a derived unit which is defined in terms of the SI base units). One newton is therefore the force needed to accelerate one kilogram of mass at the rate of one metre per second squared in the direction of the applied force. The units “metre per second squared" can be understood as a change in velocity per time, i.e. an increase of velocity by 1 metre per second every second.

In 1946, Conférence Générale des Poids et Mesures (CGPM) Resolution 2 standardized the unit of force in the MKS system of units to be the amount needed to accelerate 1 kilogram of mass at the rate of 1 metre per second squared. In 1948, the 9th CGPM Resolution 7 adopted the name newton for this force. The MKS system then became the blueprint for today’s SI system of units. The newton thus became the standard unit of force in the International System of Units.

The newton is named after Isaac Newton. As with every SI unit named for a person, its symbol starts with an upper case letter (N), but when written in full it follows the rules for capitalisation of a common noun; i.e., “newton" becomes capitalised at the beginning of a sentence and in titles, but is otherwise in lower case.

In more formal terms, Newton’s second law of motion states that the force exerted on an object is directly proportional to the acceleration hence acquired by that object, namely: F = m a , {displaystyle F=ma,}

where m {displaystyle m} m represents the mass of the object undergoing an acceleration a {displaystyle a} a. As a result, the newton may be defined in terms of kilograms ( kg {displaystyle {text{kg}}} {displaystyle {text{kg}}}), metres ( m {displaystyle {text{m}}} {displaystyle {text{m}}}), and seconds ( s {displaystyle {text{s}}} {displaystyle {text{s}}}) as 1   N = 1   kg ⋅ m s 2 . {displaystyle 1 {text{N}}=1 {frac {{text{kg}}cdot {text{m}}}{{text{s}}^{2}}}.} {displaystyle 1 {text{N}}=1 {frac {{text{kg}}cdot {text{m}}}{{text{s}}^{2}}}.}

Examples

At average gravity on Earth (conventionally, g = 9.80665 m/s2), a kilogram mass exerts a force of about 9.8 newtons. An average-sized apple exerts about one newton of force, which we measure as the apple’s weight. 1 N = 0.10197 kg × 9.80665 m/s2    (0.10197 kg = 101.97 g).

The weight of an average adult exerts a force of about 608 N. 608 N = 62 kg × 9.80665 m/s2 (where 62 kg is the world average adult mass).

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