The flow of a liquid is said to be steady, streamline or laminar if every particle of the liquid follows exactly the path of its preceding particle and has the same velocity of its preceding particle at every point.

Let abc be the path of flow of a liquid and v_{1}, v_{2} and v_{3} be the velocities of the liquid at the points a, b and c respectively. During a streamline flow, all the particles arriving at ‘a’ will have the same velocity v_{1} which is directed along the tangent at the point ‘a’. A particle arriving at b will always have the same velocity v_{2}.

This velocity v_{2} may or may not be equal to u1. Similarly all the particles arriving at the point c will always have the same velocity v_{3}. In other words, in the streamline flow of a liquid, the velocity of every particle crossing a particular point is the same.

The streamline flow is possible only as long as the velocity of the fluid does not exceed a certain value. This limiting value of velocity is called critical velocity.