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One of the three basic states of matter. A solid forms from either a liquid or a gas (the other two states of matter) because, as the energy of the atoms decreases, they coalesce in the relatively ordered, three-dimensional structure of a solid. All solids have the ability to support loads applied either perpendicular (normal) or parallel (shear) to a surface. Solids can be crystalline (as in metals), amorphous (as in glass), or quasicrystalline (as in certain metal alloys), depending on the degree of order in the arrangement of the atoms.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on solid, visit Britannica.com.