Torque is the rotational equivalent of force. Conceptually, torque may be thought of as a measure of the tendency of a force to cause a rotation. If a force is applied to an object such that it is likely to cause a "forceful" rotation, then that would be a large torque. If a force is applied to an object such that it would cause a weak rotation, then that is a small torque. Torque is calculated by multiplying the force applied by perpendicular distance of that force from the axis of rotation. The units of torque are Newton-meters (SI units) or foot-pounds (English units).
This may all seem very confusing in words, but it is easily demonstrated in the following scenario.
© April, 1998, Montana State University-Bozeman