Electricity is the set of physical phenomena associated with the presence and flow of electric charge. 

An electric field between two charges. image: wikipedia

Electricity gives a wide variety of well-known effects, such as lightning, static electricity, electromagnetic induction and electrical current. 

In addition, electricity permits the creation and reception of electromagnetic radiation such as radio waves.

In electricity, charges produce electromagnetic fields (A fundamental force of nature) which act on other charges. Electricity occurs due to several types of physics:

  • electric charge
    • a property of some subatomic particles, which determines their electromagnetic interactions. 
    • Electrically charged matter is influenced by, and produces, electromagnetic fields.
  • electric field and electrostatics:
    •  an especially simple type of electromagnetic field produced by an electric charge even when it is not moving (i.e., there is no electric current). like creating a statically charged balloon/plastics (triboelectric effect)
    • The electric field produces a force on other charges in its vicinity or contact electrification. 
  • electric potential:
    •  the capacity of an electric field to do work on an electric charge, typically measured in volts.
  • electric current:
    •  a movement or flow of electrically charged particles, typically measured in amperes.
  • electromagnets
    • Moving charges produce a magnetic field. Electrical currents generate magnetic fields, and changing magnetic fields generate electrical currents.

In electrical engineering, electricity is used for:

  • electric power 
    • where electric current is used to energise (either generate electric current or convert to work/movement) equipment;
  • electronics 
    • which deals with electrical circuits that involve active electrical components such as :
      • vacuum tubes, 
      • transistors, 
      • diodes and integrated circuits, and 
      • associated passive interconnection technologies (like resistance, capacitance and inductance to control electric current flow)

Brief history outline

Electrical phenomena have been studied since antiquity, though progress in theoretical understanding remained slow until the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. 

Even then, practical applications for electricity were few, and it would not be until the late nineteenth century that engineers were able to put it to industrial and residential use. 

The rapid expansion in electrical technology at this time transformed industry and society. Electricity's extraordinary versatility means it can be put to an almost limitless set of technological applications which include transport, heating, lighting, communications, and computation. Electrical power is now the backbone of modern industrial society.

source:  http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Electricity&oldid=61415595

Origin of the word electricity 

In the 1600s, A  New Latin word electricus ("of amber" or "like amber", from ἤλεκτρον, elektron, the Greek word for "amber") to refer to the property of attracting small objects after being rubbed was coined by English scientist William Gilbert. He  carefully studied electricity and magnetism, distinguishing the lodestone effect from static electricity produced by rubbing amber. 

A video describing some of these early experiments. source: Sam Gallagher

see also