The centripetal force is the external force required to make a body follow a circular path at constant speed (speed being the magnitude of velocity).
Hence centripetal force is a force requirement, not a particular kind of force.
Any force (gravitational, electromagnetic, etc.) can act as a centripetal force.
The force is directed inward, toward the center of the circle or oriented toward the axis of rotation.
The term centripetal force comes from the Latin words centrum (center) and petere (tend towards, aim at.), and can also be derived from Isaac Newton's original definitions described in Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica.
The centripetal force always acts perpendicular to the direction of motion of the body. In the case of an object that moves along a circular arc with a changing speed, the net force on the body may be decomposed into a perpendicular component that changes the direction of motion (the centripetal force), and a parallel, or tangential component, that changes the speed.
Centripetal force should not be confused with centrifugal force