in·​sta·​bil·​i·​ty | \ˌin(t)-stə-ˈbi-lə-tē \

Definition of instability 

: the quality or state of being unstable especially : lack of emotional or mental stability

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Examples of instability in a Sentence

Investors are worried about the current instability of the stock market. The patient has a history of emotional instability.

Recent Examples on the Web

The instability has led to the loss of at least 200,000 jobs since April amid widespread financial losses, especially for the crucial tourism industry. Maria Verza, The Seattle Times, "In Nicaragua, political violence spurs migration," 25 Oct. 2018 By 2003, the instability had turned to full-out war. Rawiya Kameir, Vogue, "Does Citizenship Shape Identity? A “Third-Culture” Writer Takes Stock," 19 Oct. 2018 The spikiness and instability of these balls allows the small bones in your feet to move around in ways that regular footwear and walking on flat surfaces does not. SELF, "7 Ways to Treat Your Feet During Marathon Training," 13 Sep. 2018 Since hurricane season began June 1, the forecast said, the Atlantic Ocean has developed unusually cold temperatures, depriving developing hurricanes of fuel and the atmospheric instability necessary for their formation. David Fleshler,, "Fewer hurricanes expected this season, according to latest forecast," 2 July 2018 The conditions also led to high rates of teacher turnover, and the instability caused by staff churn ultimately harmed students, Vowels said. Mandy Mclaren, The Courier-Journal, "Should JCPS pay teachers more if they work in low-performing schools?," 23 June 2018 The instability of the Civil War may have further aggravated such fears: the female prophet Anna Trapnel had sparked controversy in January 1645, and Sarah Wight had a similar effect in the weeks after February 1647. Longreads, "Fairy Scapegoats: A History of the Persecution of Changeling Children," 9 June 2018 Looking at its fellow Group A opponents and seeing the instability of Russia and inexperience of Saudi Arabia gives Egypt a great platform to progress., "Egypt Hopeful of Having Salah to Navigate Manageable World Cup Group," 30 May 2018 Most of the instability will be west of Interstate 495, and then further south. Dave Epstein,, "Where the greatest risk for severe storms will be this afternoon," 16 May 2018

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

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First Known Use of instability

15th century, in the meaning defined above

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Dictionary Entries near instability


in sport




in stages


Statistics for instability

Last Updated

17 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for instability

The first known use of instability was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for instability



English Language Learners Definition of instability

: the state of being likely to change

: the tendency to change your behavior very quickly or to react to things in an extremely emotional way


in·​sta·​bil·​i·​ty | \ˌin-stə-ˈbi-lə-tē \

Kids Definition of instability

: the quality or state of being unstable


in·​sta·​bil·​i·​ty | \ˌin(t)-stə-ˈbil-ət-ē \
plural instabilities

Medical Definition of instability 

: the quality or state of being unstable especially : lack of emotional or mental stability

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Comments on instability

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


by force of circumstances

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