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I'm unable to understand the difference between 液体 and 流体. Both sound like "fluid" to me, while the latter sounds like "flowing fluid" (if that makes sense). I had thought there was only 気体、液体、and 固体. What is this 流体 and how can it be explained?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

Is it not the difference between fluid and liquid? The latter can be very viscous or "fluid"/free flowing?

Defn of fluid: a substance that has no fixed shape and yields easily to external pressure; a gas or (esp.) a liquid

It is a bit clearer if you look at the origins of the words.

Fluid (as an adjective): from French fluide or Latin fluidus, from fluere ‘to flow.’ Liquid: from Latin liquidus, from liquere ‘be liquid.’

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