[met-uh-stey-buh l, met-uh-stey-]


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

Nearby words

  1. metarubricyte,
  2. metascope,
  3. metasequoia,
  4. metasoma,
  5. metasomatism,
  6. metastasio,
  7. metastasis,
  8. metastasise,
  9. metastasize,
  10. metastatic abscess

Origin of metastable

First recorded in 1895–1900; meta- + stable2

Related formsmet·a·sta·bil·i·ty [met-uh-stuh-bil-i-tee] /ˌmɛt ə stəˈbɪl ɪ ti/, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for metastable

British Dictionary definitions for metastable



(of a body or system) having a state of apparent equilibrium although capable of changing to a more stable state
(of an atom, molecule, ion, or atomic nucleus) existing in an excited state with a relatively long lifetime


a metastable atom, ion, molecule, or nucleus
Derived Formsmetastability, 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