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Region around an electric charge in which an electric force is exerted on another charge. The strength of an electric field E at any point is defined as the electric force F exerted per unit positive electric charge q at that point, or E = F/q. An electric field has both magnitude and direction and can be represented by lines of force, or field lines, that start on positive charges and terminate on negative charges. The electric field is stronger where the field lines are close together than where they are farther apart. The value of the electric field has dimensions of force per unit charge and is measured in units of newtons per coulomb.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on electric field, visit Britannica.com.