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[in-stuh-bil-i-tee] /ˌɪn stəˈbɪl ɪ ti/
the quality or state of being unstable; lack of stability or firmness.
the tendency to behave in an unpredictable, changeable, or erratic manner:
emotional instability.
Origin of instability
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English instabilite < Latin instabilitās. See in-3, stability Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for instability
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He knew that both Ruth and he had the instability as well as the initiative of the vagabond.

    The Trail of the Hawk Sinclair Lewis
  • The instability of the laws has always been one of the most serious grievances.

  • But alas and alackaday for the instability of youthful affection!

  • When the storm commenced, her dwelling had begun to show symptoms of instability.

    The Red Man's Revenge R.M. Ballantyne
  • But in the background of her mind there had always lurked a warning of his instability.

    Patsy S. R. Crockett
British Dictionary definitions for instability


noun (pl) -ties
lack of stability or steadiness
tendency to variable or unpredictable behaviour
(physics) a fast growing disturbance or wave in a plasma
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for instability

early 15c., from Middle French instabilite "inconstancy," from Latin instabilitatem (nominative instabilitas) "unsteadiness," from instabilis "unsteady," from in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + stabilis (see stable (2)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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