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 No doubt the Spurs are doing some good things despite a bit of roster instability. Jeff Mcdonald,, "San Antonio Spurs aim to finish road trip strong in Oklahoma City," 11 Jan. 2021 Indeed, while Israel’s rat-a-tat elections may look from the outside like a symptom of systemic instability, up close, even Mr. Netanyahu’s supporters view the recurring campaigns as evidence of his ability to bend the system to his purposes. New York Times, "Israeli Election, Take Four: Conservatives vs. Conservatives," 23 Dec. 2020 But the low-level surge of mild, humid air on southerly winds will import enough instability to pose a bit of a concern. Washington Post, "Christmas Eve storm threatens D.C. with gusty downpours before plunging temperatures," 23 Dec. 2020 But with traditional Arab nationalist powers such as Egypt, Libya and Syria laid low by internal instability, the monarchies used their growing power to reject one of the Arab world’s most enduring preoccupations: antipathy toward Israel. NBC News, "10 years after Arab Spring, autocratic regimes hold the upper hand," 19 Dec. 2020 While wind shear is expected to be high there will be no instability to set off strong storms. Leigh Morgan, al, "Rain on its way back to Alabama this weekend," 18 Dec. 2020 Yet a more confrontational posture from the Biden-Harris administration towards the Kremlin doesn’t necessitate US-Russia instability. Justin Sherman, Wired, "The Biden Administration Will Have Its Hands Full With Russia," 13 Dec. 2020 Prioritizing the need for settlers over the potential for instability, Mexican officials allowed Austin to enter with his slaves. Eric Herschthal, The New Republic, "The Elusive Promise of the Underground Railroad," 7 Dec. 2020 Both before and after the congressional attempt to remove Trump through impeachment, early this year, the Twenty-fifth Amendment was widely discussed because of concerns about Trump’s mental instability. Jeannie Suk Gersen, The New Yorker, "The Dangerous Possibilities of Trump’s Pardon Power," 3 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for instability

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for instability

Last Updated

17 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Instability.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for instability


How to pronounce instability (audio)

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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