Something which will destabilize very easily.

The Birlings (an inspector calls) were a ____ family.

  • Maybe "fragile", "brittle"?
    – ralph.m
    Sep 30, 2018 at 22:47
  • tempestuous works well for a lot of families, though this question is very low on the sort of background color that suggests one word might be better than another.
    – stevesliva
    Oct 1, 2018 at 1:45
  • Volatile fits well
    – moonstar
    Oct 1, 2018 at 3:45

3 Answers 3



dependent on circumstances beyond one's control; uncertain; unstable; insecure: a precarious livelihood.

dependent on the will or pleasure of another; liable to be withdrawn or lost at the will of another:


changeable; mercurial; flighty: a volatile disposition.



Does the word "unstable" not suit your needs?

prone to change, fail, or give way; not stable. —Oxford Dictionaries

  • 1
    Can you edit to mention/link to where you got this definition from?
    – Laurel
    Sep 30, 2018 at 22:34
  • Is this right? @Laurel
    – Tommy Tran
    Sep 30, 2018 at 23:19
  • 1
    Almost. Google gets its definitions from one of the two online Oxford dictionaries, in this case the US version. (See here.)
    – Laurel
    Sep 30, 2018 at 23:25

Perhaps labile


apt or likely to change.

The family might be prone to labile moods From Psychcentral:

Marked fluctuation of mood; can be a symptom of a disorder such as schizophrenia.

Example: A woman seeks help for “ups and downs” lasting days or weeks; she can’t seem to keep her emotions on an even keel.

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