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

Both Hailey and Justin have suffered through bouts of mental instability that resulted in them both using the N-word on separate occasions. Mariah Smith, The Cut, "Like Everything, Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin’s Relationship Is Connected to the Kardashians," 11 July 2018 Saving the church building, which Feibush and church officials say has some structural instability, would require not only the money to acquire the property, but sufficient funds to stabilize and redevelop it. Caitlin Mccabe,, "South Philly developer Ori Feibush changes course, plans to demolish 19th-century church," 11 June 2018 This type of cracking is often associated with slope instability. Joe Marusak, charlotteobserver, "5-mile stretch of Blue Ridge Parkway closed after heavy rains cause cracks to emerge," 5 June 2018 Despite record low unemployment in the county and beyond, wage growth remains stagnant and fears about economic instability are never far from voters’ lips. Joshua Emerson Smith,, "Trump effect remains uncertain in San Diego as June election approaches," 6 May 2018 In recent years, the program has faced financial instability and has needed last-minute infusions of money to fill financing gaps. New York Times, "New York’s Emergency Food Program Gets More Funding, but Will It Be Enough?," 8 July 2018 Ireland The Republic of Ireland remained in the number ten spot with a 1.393 overall score (slightly more peaceful than last year), netting its marks for low political instability and political terror, and faring well in U.N. peacekeeping funding. Ryan Craggs, Condé Nast Traveler, "The 10 Safest Countries in the World," 5 July 2018 Most of it was grown in Afghanistan, where political instability and rural poverty helps to explain why production reached 9,000 tonnes. The Economist, "Global drug production," 28 June 2018 According to a Federal Reserve report, 30 percent of Americans are now employed in the gig economy, a situation characterized by instability and financial fragility. Julie Heath,, "Low unemployment not helping all workers," 22 June 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

25 Aug 2018

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 \

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).


alleviating pain or harshness

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