in·​sta·​bil·​i·​ty | \ ˌin(t)-stə-ˈbi-lə-tē How to pronounce instability (audio) \

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

Those dueling claims as well as the concerns about irregularities highlight continuing deep divisions in Thailand and indicate that Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy is no closer to escaping its long period of political instability. Kaweewit Kaewjinda, The Seattle Times, "Election observers call still-partial Thai vote count flawed," 26 Mar. 2019 What is the direct link between gender inequality and political instability? Sean Illing, Vox, "Want less poverty in the world? Empower women.," 5 Nov. 2018 Root may lull you with its relative simplicity and pleasant facade, but the game really models geo-political instability. Charlie Theel, Ars Technica, "Root is a terrific—and fully asymmetric—woodland wargame," 29 Sep. 2018 With elections scheduled for July or August, the South Asian nation has been weathering political instability and economic stress for the past year. Kamran Haider,, "As Deficits Widen, Pakistan to Lure Overseas Money With Amnesty," 5 Apr. 2018 The regime profits while continuing to spread instability across the region and the world. WSJ, "The U.S. Sticks Up for Victims of Cuba’s Theft," 25 Apr. 2019 Any instability or injury in the knees, ankles, hips, or lower back can be exacerbated by exercising on sand. Amy Marturana, SELF, "5 Things to Know Before Working Out on the Beach," 6 Apr. 2019 Voids from the compacting process can yield instability in warmer temps, so this is plan B. Kevin Dupzyk, Popular Mechanics, "The Biggest Ice-Climbing Wall in American History," 23 Feb. 2019 With this added instability, your core is automatically forced to engage more to keep the rest of your body sturdy. Jenny Mccoy, SELF, "Work Your Core and Upper Body With This 5-Move TRX Circuit From Celebrity Trainer Jeanette Jenkins," 4 Apr. 2019

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

19 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

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 How to pronounce instability (audio) \

Kids Definition of instability

: the quality or state of being unstable


in·​sta·​bil·​i·​ty | \ ˌin(t)-stə-ˈbil-ət-ē How to pronounce instability (audio) \
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).


to mark by some ceremony or observation

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