[ met-uh-stey-buhl, met-uh-stey- ]

  1. Metallurgy. chemically unstable in the absence of certain conditions that would induce stability, but not liable to spontaneous transformation.

  2. Also labile. Physics, Chemistry. pertaining to a body or system existing at an energy level (metastable state ) above that of a more stable state and requiring the addition of a small amount of energy to induce a transition to the more stable state.

Origin of metastable

First recorded in 1895–1900; meta- + stable2

Other words from metastable

  • met·a·sta·bil·i·ty [met-uh-stuh-bil-i-tee], /ˌmɛt ə stəˈbɪl ɪ ti/, noun

Words Nearby metastable Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use metastable in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for metastable


/ (ˌmɛtəˈsteɪbəl) physics /

  1. (of a body or system) having a state of apparent equilibrium although capable of changing to a more stable state

  2. (of an atom, molecule, ion, or atomic nucleus) existing in an excited state with a relatively long lifetime

  1. a metastable atom, ion, molecule, or nucleus

Derived forms of metastable

  • metastability, noun

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