la·​bile | \ ˈlā-ˌbī(-ə)l How to pronounce labile (audio) , -bəl \

Definition of labile

1 : readily or continually undergoing chemical, physical, or biological change or breakdown : unstable a labile mineral
2 : readily open to change has so labile a face that some of her scenes … rock with emotion— Manny Farber

Other Words from labile

lability \ lā-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce labile (audio) \ noun

Did you know?

Labile was borrowed into English from French and can be traced back (by way of Middle French labile, meaning "prone to err") to the Latin verb labi, meaning "to slip or fall." Indeed, the first sense of labile in English was "prone to slip, err, or lapse," but that usage is now obsolete. Other labi descendants in English include collapse, elapse, and prolapse, as well as lapse itself.

Examples of labile in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In its particulars, that work prefigured much that was to come: public, politically labile, made with sparse means and leaving no object behind. New York Times, 4 Dec. 2021 Jesse’s behavior is labile, an adjective that sounds precise but turns out to be little more than a clinical term for emotions that are all over the place. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, 18 Nov. 2021 Arias, an exciting and emotionally labile actor, makes Anna a jittery creature, like a woman in the constant throes of a low-grade fever. Alexis Soloski, New York Times, 18 Feb. 2020 Indeed people who suffer from labile epilepsy, end-stage emphysema, or exquisite peanut allergies requiring immediate EpiPen availability should not be left to suffer the tragic dilemma of Alec Smith. Letter Writers, Twin Cities, 9 June 2019 But cancers are both heterogeneous and labile; elsewhere in a tumour, and later in a tumour’s progression, things may look different. The Economist, 16 Sep. 2017 But cancers are both heterogeneous and labile The Economist, 16 Sep. 2017 Yes, both Mr. Spector and Ms. Hall are dynamic, intelligent and emotionally labile. Alexis Soloski, New York Times, 25 May 2017 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'labile.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of labile

1603, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for labile

French, from Middle French, prone to err, from Late Latin labilis, from Latin labi to slip — more at sleep

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Cite this Entry

“Labile.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for labile


la·​bile | \ ˈlā-ˌbīl How to pronounce labile (audio) , -bəl How to pronounce labile (audio) \

Medical Definition of labile

: readily or frequently changing: as
a : readily or continually undergoing chemical, physical, or biological change or breakdown a labile antigen
b : characterized by wide fluctuations (as in blood pressure or glucose tolerance) labile hypertension labile diabetes
c : emotionally unstable

Other Words from labile

lability \ lā-​ˈbil-​ət-​ē How to pronounce labile (audio) \ noun, plural labilities


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