What is electricity?

Electricity is a general term encompassing a variety of phenomena resulting from the presence and flow of electric charge. These include many easily recognizable phenomena, such as lightning, static electricity, and the flow of electrical current in an electrical wire. In addition, electricity encompasses less familiar concepts such as the electromagnetic field and electromagnetic induction.

In general, electricity is the movement or flow of an electric charge or charges. In a less general sense, we usually think of electricity as the flow of electrons, which are subatomic particles that carry a negative charge. Electric charges will move to obey electrostatic principles, and when there is more than one charge involved, a force (an electrostatic force) will act between them. We might term this force voltage, and it is voltage that causes charges to move.

Electricity could be looked at as the dynamic application of the electromagnetic force, which is one of the four fundamental forces in nature. There is a field associated with any charge, and the field could be looked at as the force carrier. Terms like voltage, current, potential (or potential difference) often appear in the conversation about electricity. These more specific items are dealt with in separate questions.