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

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 Other factors caused by the pandemic, such as economic instability, further increase someone's vulnerability to trafficking, Benjamin said. Celina Tebor, USA TODAY, 12 Jan. 2022 This has led to frustration, stress, and financial instability. Miriam Marini, Detroit Free Press, 11 Jan. 2022 The sensor, which is placed under a person’s mattress, collects data overnight about breathing patterns, heart rate and body movements, and flags issues like heart rate instability or respiratory rate depression. Tara Law, Time, 11 Jan. 2022 For many parents and teachers, the pandemic has become a slog of anxiety over the risk of infection, child care crises, the tedium of school-through-a-screen and, most of all, chronic instability. New York Times, 8 Jan. 2022 Minsky had a lot to say about how to regulate financial markets in order to address issues involving fragility and instability. Hersh Shefrin, Forbes, 1 Jan. 2022 What has hit me hard over the past week or so is that all of my clients have been dealing with so much change and instability. Jennifer Mizgata, Fortune, 30 Dec. 2021 Researchers including Comolli point to a convergence in circumstances present in all three cases—economic instability paired with recent increases in financial support for parents. Nora Lorek, History, 27 Dec. 2021 Democrats and policy experts blamed the juvenile crime spike on a childhood mental health crisis, economic instability brought on by the coronavirus pandemic and a fraying social service safety net in poor communities. Jesse Leavenworth,, 22 Dec. 2021

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

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

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Last Updated

17 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Instability.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jan. 2022.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on instability

Nglish: Translation of instability for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of instability for Arabic Speakers


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