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 For the past 10 years, the cost of living for students in France has increased, further compounding their financial instability. Mélissa Godin, New York Times, "Student Sets Himself on Fire, Highlighting Broader Distress in France," 24 Nov. 2019 Appearing subservient to such an unpopular figure carries real political risk for any foreign ally — particularly in Britain, Australia and Italy, where the governments are already struggling with their own instability and questions of legitimacy. Adam Taylor, Washington Post, "Foreign allies who gambled on Trump face big losses," 3 Oct. 2019 With its opening chords, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 points to a new direction in orchestral writing, its harmonic instability and rhythmic dynamism foreshadowing the composer’s innovations yet to come. Howard Reich,, "CSO review: Muti launches an epic Beethoven symphonies cycle before a packed Orchestra Hall," 27 Sep. 2019 Similar to Zayas’ case, officers reportedly failed to conduct visual checks and Epstein was not being held under suicide watch, despite signs of instability. Cristóbal Reyes,, "Osceola jail inmate killed himself as guards skipped cell checks. A year later, his mother still seeks justice | Special Report," 9 May 2019 The country’s acute fear of instability dates to the Weimar Republic, when parliament seated an average of 14 parties and governing coalitions were as steady as Hollywood marriages. Washington Post, "Germany’s Crisis Has Been Averted. But at What Cost?," 6 Dec. 2019 For the third straight week, the territory’s Hamas rulers canceled the regular Friday protests for fear of instability., "News of the Day From Around the World, Nov. 29," 29 Nov. 2019 The researchers wanted to swoop in during that period of instability and manipulate the memories associated with alcohol. Megan Thielking, STAT, "With the help of ketamine, researchers rewrite memories in a bid to curb harmful drinking," 26 Nov. 2019 All were justified and necessary, but that is still a lot of instability. Wally Hall, Arkansas Online, "WALLY HALL: Meeting with Memphis coach reported, but UA has been used for leverage before," 21 Nov. 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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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

13 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Instability.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 22 January 2020.

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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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Comments on instability

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