A colloid is a mixture in which one substance of microscopically dispersed insoluble particles are suspended throughout another substance. However, some definitions specify that the particles must be dispersed in a liquid, and others extend the definition to include substances like aerosols and gels. The term colloidal suspension refers unambiguously to the overall mixture (although a narrower sense of the word suspension is distinguished from colloids by larger particle size). A colloid has a dispersed phase (the suspended particles) and a continuous phase (the medium of suspension). The dispersed phase particles have a diameter of approximately 1 nanometre to 1 micrometre.
Some colloids are translucent because of the Tyndall effect, which is the scattering of light by particles in the colloid. Other colloids may be opaque or have a slight color.
Colloidal suspensions are the subject of interface and colloid science. This field of study was introduced in 1845 by Italian chemist Francesco Selmi and further investigated since 1861 by Scottish scientist Thomas Graham.