de·​sta·​bi·​lize | \ (ˌ)dē-ˈstā-bə-ˌlīz \
destabilized; destabilizing; destabilizes

Definition of destabilize

transitive verb

1 : to make unstable
2 : to cause (something, such as a government) to be incapable of functioning or surviving

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from destabilize

destabilization \ (ˌ)dē-​ˌstā-​bə-​lə-​ˈzā-​shən \ noun

Examples of destabilize in a Sentence

The group hoped the assassination of the new President would destabilize the government. Economists warn that the crisis could destabilize the nation's currency.

Recent Examples on the Web

The military has said the Arakan Army is destabilizing the border region with India and Bangladesh. Jon Emont, WSJ, "Buddhist Violence Portends New Threat to Myanmar," 4 Jan. 2019 The slower motion of the ions destabilizes the whole plasma. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Technical tour-de-force traps positrons," 11 Dec. 2018 Instead of feeling relief, the major disruption in my life destabilized me. Stefanie Lyn Kaufman As Told To Korin Miller, SELF, "This Is What It's Really Like to Experience Psychosis," 23 Aug. 2018 There is also a powerful pragmatic argument: lethal autonomous weapons, selecting and engaging targets without human intervention, would be dangerously destabilizing for every country and individual. James Vincent, The Verge, "Elon Musk, DeepMind founders, and others sign pledge to not develop lethal AI weapon systems," 18 July 2018 But American intelligence has concluded its goal was not only to destabilize democracy but to help Trump win. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Alan Dershowitz’s Audition to Be Trump’s Lawyer Is Not Going Well," 21 Mar. 2018 Yemen today is suffering an acute humanitarian crisis that is actively destabilizing the region, bolstering the position of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and needlessly intensifying a dangerous Saudi-Iran regional rivalry. WSJ, "Saudi Move in Yemen: An Opening for Iran," 23 Nov. 2018 Armed separatists have vowed to destabilize the regions and hundreds of civilians have been killed and dozens of schools have been burned and teachers threatened. Edwin Kindzeka Moki, The Seattle Times, "Cameroon military frees 9 abducted children, teacher," 21 Nov. 2018 Another option would be if warming destabilized the methane-water ices found in the ocean, which could allow the methane to reach the atmosphere. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Researchers suggest we could tip into a hothouse Earth—here’s what that means," 10 Aug. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'destabilize.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of destabilize

1924, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about destabilize

Share destabilize

Dictionary Entries near destabilize








Statistics for destabilize

Last Updated

24 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for destabilize

The first known use of destabilize was in 1924

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for destabilize



English Language Learners Definition of destabilize

: to cause (something, such as a government) to be unable to continue existing or working in the usual or desired way : to make (something) unstable

More from Merriam-Webster on destabilize

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with destabilize

Nglish: Translation of destabilize for Spanish Speakers

Comments on destabilize

What made you want to look up destabilize? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


esteemed in general opinion

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What did you just call me?! A Quiz

  • rows-of-various-emoji
  • If a member of the audience describes your speech as bombastic, does that person mean it is:
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!