1 : readily or continually undergoing chemical, physical, or biological change or breakdown : unstable
2 : readily open to change
Did You Know?
We are confident that you won't slip up or err in learning today's word, despite its etymology. 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.
"From the outset, we see Queen Anne—portrayed brilliantly by Olivia Colman—as frail, obese and emotionally-labile. One minute, she's calmly speaking to her confidante…. The next, she's accosting a boy servant in a hysterically bizarre scene…. — Lipi Roy, Forbes.com, 24 Feb. 2019
"'A desirable long-term outcome would be to create [contact] lenses from polymers that are fine-tuned to be inert during use but labile and degradable when escaping into the environment.' As for members of the public concerned they are polluting the environment, [Dr. Rolf] Halden said: 'Used plastic lenses ideally should be returned to the manufacturer for recycling….'" — Kashmira Gander, Newsweek, 20 Aug. 2018
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Test Your Vocabulary
Fill in the blanks to complete an adjective that means "characterized by or subject to rapid or unexpected change": v _ l _ _ il _.VIEW THE ANSWER
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP