# Thermal energy

The term ‘thermal energy’ is used loosely in various contexts in physics and engineering. It can refer to several different well-defined physical concepts. These include the internal energy or enthalpy of a body of matter and radiation; heat, defined as a type of energy transfer (as is thermodynamic work); and the characteristic energy of a degree of freedom, , in a system that is described in terms of its microscopic particulate constituents (where denotes temperature and denotes the Boltzmann constant).