Assume, we have teacup (with handle) on the table. Then we rotate the cup so that its handle is now pointing to other direction, but the cup itself remains in the same place. Can we say in this case that the teacup's position is changed? Can we say that the teacup's location is changed?


  1. What word/term can we use to refer the teacup's placement irrespectively to its orientation?
  2. What word/term can we use to refer both the teacup's placement and orientation?

Do location and position usually mean the 1st thing or the 2nd thing?

The older wording of the same question

Let's suppose, I have set of objects on plane. Every object is characterized by two coordinates (X and Y) and its rotation angle (i.e. where the object's head is directed to).

I want to pick up proper terms for:
1. Point where object is located (i.e. object's X and Y).
2. Point where object is located together with its rotation angle (i.e. object's X, Y and angle).

Is it correct to refer {X, Y} as object's location, and {X, Y, angle} as object's position?
Or, maybe, location=position is {X, Y} only? So then what term can I use for {X, Y, angle}: state, extended position/location?
Or, maybe, it's better to refer {X, Y} as coordinates and {X, Y, angle} as location=position?


2 Answers 2


Location definitely doesn't include orientation, but position could, but doesn't always.

Location always refers to a place, and can sometimes be used more specifically to where you are inside a place, but no more. Position usually starts with layout, like stretching or yoga positions for one person, or your position on a team for multiple people. That type of position refers to your place as part of a team, and can also be used for the role you play or your job title in an office. Finally, position can be used in the same sense as location, where you are within a place.

Position could include orientation for both the one person meaning and the location within a place, but it can't be assumed that it does. Really, you should just use orientation as well when you need to be specific about including that.

  • Thanks for your answer, it's great. Sorry for bothering, wouldn't it be hard for you to clarify other terms with similar meanings like: placing, placement, disposition, locus, arrangement, etc -- in the same context (i.e. "term includes orientation" / "term doesn't" / "it depends" / "term isn't applicable")? Thanks.
    – Sasha
    Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 13:46
  • Placing is a passive form of location, implying that someone or something placed that thing there. Like "you're meant to be exactly where you are." But that makes it kinda weird, like you don't have any agency, that someone has planned out your moves, and so it kinda includes orientation, but only as far as someone has predicted everything you're doing even to the direction you're facing. Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 15:01
  • Placement is similar, but less intense, and also can be used as "well, they just happened to end up there." It still ignores that the target could choose where to go, but it doesn't make clear that someone else is choosing for him. Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 15:03
  • Placement usually does not include orientation. I don't recognize disposition as having anything to do with location. Locus is a focus point for something, definitely nothing to do with orientation, and doesn't even work for people. Arrangement is relative position, so I guess it could include orientation. But arrangement needs several targets, and orientation still isn't for sure. Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 15:08
  • 1
    Ah, true, I was taking these terms in general. For teacups, arrangement is best, and includes orientation. :) Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 15:46

In robotics, position refers to the (x,y,z) coordinates of an object, while pose refers to both the position (3D) and orientation (3D) of an object.

  • and location, is that just redundant or?
    – john-jones
    Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 9:10
  • location = position
    – user163859
    Commented Jan 4, 2023 at 12:47

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