When a sample of material is stretched in one direction, it tends to get thinner in the other two directions.
Poisson's ratio (ν) is a measure of this tendency. It is defined as the ratio of the strain in the direction of the applied load to the strain normal to the load. For a perfectly incompressible material, the Poisson's ratio would be exactly 0.5. Most practical engineering materials have ν between 0.0 and 0.5. Cork is close to 0.0, most steels are around 0.3, and rubber is almost 0.5.
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