Labile Definition

lābīl, -bəl
Liable to change; unstable.
Labile chemical compounds.
Webster's New World
Fluctuating widely.
Labile hypertension; labile emotions.
American Heritage Medicine
Decomposing readily.
The labile component of organic matter.
American Heritage Medicine

Liable to slip, err, fall, or apostatize.


(chemistry, of a compound or bond) Kinetically unstable; rapidly cleaved (possibly reformed).

Certain drugs can be conjugated to polymer molecules with a linkage that is labile at low pH to effect controlled release in a cellular endosome.
Water ligands typically bind metals in a labile fashion and are rapidly interchanged in aqueous solution.

Origin of Labile

  • Middle English labil forgetful, wandering from Old French labile from Late Latin lābilis apt to slip from lābī to slip

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

  • Borrowing from Latin lābilis ("apt to slip, transient"), from lābor, lābī (“slip; glide, flow”).

    From Wiktionary

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