- Liable to change; easily altered.
- Of or characterized by emotions that are easily aroused or freely expressed, and that tend to alter quickly and spontaneously; emotionally unstable.
“My sisters are very labile when it comes to our vacations, but I need to have a set plan in place.”
“As a family doctor, she was familiar with patients becoming emotionally labile when they weren’t feeling well.”
“While we should aim for stability in most aspects of life, some things are just labile in nature.”
Latin, mid-15th century
Why this word?
“Labile” developed in Middle English, but its roots are found in the Latin words “labilis” and “labi” (“to fall”). In the mid-15th century, “labile” was used in the sense of “liable to err or to sin,” but that usage has shifted in our more secular culture. Today the word can be used in a sense of anything easily altered, or in a more emotionally volatile usage. There’s also a third usage for “labile” that applies specifically to chemistry and chemical bonds: “easily broken down or displaced.”
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