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

At the macro level, uncertainty causes instability. Roger Showley,, "Stopgap budgeting: An economic downside?," 26 Jan. 2018 According to Zenit, Pollock's own dripping technique relies upon the same instability to produce curly lines and spots on his canvases. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Study: modern masters like Jackson Pollock were “intuitive physicists”," 26 Dec. 2018 The majority were Hondurans fleeing gang violence and the instability that followed the contested re-election of President Juan Orlando Hernandez. CBS News, "Remnants of migrant caravan resume trek to U.S. border," 19 Apr. 2018 The risk is the instability that could ripple out into the world. Peter Landers, WSJ, "The Old U.S. Trade War With Japan Looms Over Today’s Dispute With China," 13 Dec. 2018 The 1990s saw internal instability for North Korea. Katherine Nails,, "U.S.-North Korea relations: Donald Trump, Kim Jong Un to have summit in Singapore," 11 June 2018 Ethiopia, Africa’s second-largest country by population and a key U.S. partner in the fight against extremist in the Horn of Africa, has been racked by instability for the past three years. Paul Schemm, Washington Post, "Ethiopia moves to lift state of emergency two months early as tensions ease," 2 June 2018 The result is extreme water scarcity in an already arid climate, with steep prices and instability for the city’s poorest residents. Meher Ahmad, New York Times, "Looking for a Bit of Shade as Intense Heat Wave Hits Karachi," 29 May 2018 At times, especially during some of the heavy downpours, the winds could gust over 25 mph, and that’s enough to create a little bit of instability for the runners. Dave Epstein,, "Showers, heavy downpours expected for Boston Marathon," 15 Apr. 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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Last Updated

10 Feb 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 \

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

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