viscosity, resistance of a fluid to flow. This resistance acts against the motion of any solid object through the fluid and also against motion of the fluid itself past stationary obstacles. Viscosity also acts internally on the fluid between slower and faster moving adjacent layers.

All fluids, i.e., all liquids and gases, exhibit viscosity to some degree. Viscosity may be thought of as fluid friction , just as the friction between two solids resists the motion of one over the other but also makes possible the acceleration of one relative to the other (e.g., the friction between the wheels of an automobile and a highway), so viscosity resists the motion of a solid through a fluid but also makes it possible for a propeller or other device to accelerate the solid through the fluid.

Sections in this article:

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Physics

Browse By Subject