Elasticity Definition and Examples

What Is Elasticity?

A rubber band stretches and returns to its original shape, displaying elasticity.
A rubber band stretches and returns to its original shape, displaying elasticity. Eric Raptosh Photography / Getty Images

Elasticity is a physical property of a material where the material returns to its original shape after being deformed. Substances the display a high degree of elasticity are termed "elastic." The SI unit applied to elasticity is the pascal (Pa), which is used to measure the modulus of deformation and elastic limit.

The causes of elasticity vary depending on the type of material. Polymers, including rubber, may be elastic as polymer chains are stretched and return their form when the force is removed. Metals may display elasticity as atomic lattices change shape and size, returning to their original form once energy is removed.

Examples: Rubber bands and elastic and other stretchy materials display elasticity. Modeling clay is relatively inelastic, since it retains it deformed shape.