Fluid is any liquid or gas or generally any material that cannot sustain a tangential, or shearing, force when at rest and that undergoes a continuous change in shape when subjected to such a stress. This continuous and irrecoverable change of position of one part of the material relative to another part when under shear stress constitutes flow, a characteristic property of fluids. In contrast, the shearing forces within a solid, held in a twisted or flexed position, are maintained; the solid undergoes no flow and can spring back to its original shape. Compressed fluids can spring back to their original shape, too, but while compression is maintained, the forces within the fluid and between the fluid and the container are not shear forces. The fluid exerts an outward pressure, called hydrostatic pressure, that is everywhere perpendicular to the surfaces of the container.

Excerpt from the Encyclopedia Britannica without permission.