1

passive

play
adjective pas·sive \ˈpa-siv\

Definition of passive

  1. 1a (1) :  acted upon by an external agency (2) :  receptive to outside impressions or influencesb (1) :  asserting that the grammatical subject of a verb is subjected to or affected by the action represented by that verb the passive voice (2) :  containing or yielding a passive verb formc (1) :  lacking in energy or will :  lethargic (2) :  tending not to take an active or dominant partd :  induced by an outside agency passive exercise of a paralyzed leg

  2. 2a :  not active or operating :  inertb :  of, relating to, or making direct use of the sun's heat usually without the intervention of mechanical devices a passive solar housec :  latentd :  of, relating to, or characterized by a state of chemical inactivity; especially :  resistant to corrosione of an electronic element :  exhibiting no gain or controlf :  relating to the detection of an object through its emission of energy or sound passive sonar

  3. 3a :  receiving or enduring without resistance :  submissiveb :  existing or occurring without being active, open, or direct passive support

  4. 4 :  of, relating to, or being business activity in which the investor does not actively participate in the generation of income

passively

adverb

passiveness

noun

passivity

play \pa-ˈsi-və-tē\ noun

Examples of passive in a Sentence

  1. The destructive myth/legend of Herbert Hoover strikes again. The nation's 31st President has chronically been portrayed as passive in the face of the Great Depression and his successor, Franklin Roosevelt, as the exact opposite—an activist who, if he didn't actually cure the Depression, at least profoundly improved the nation's battered psychology. —Steve Forbes, Forbes, 30 June 2008

  2. He believes that the time has come for Europeans to discard their passive role with respect to the United States and that Americans must be made to understand why. —Nicholas Fraser, Harper's, May 2006

  3. Throughout the streets of Moscow last Wednesday, word of the ignominious flight of the Soviet Union's would-be junta brought a sense not of jubilation, but of quiet relief that a bloody civil war had been averted, and of satisfaction that the myth of the passive, obedient Russian people might be laid to rest. —Fred Hiatt, Washington Post, 26 Aug.-1 Sept. 1991

  4. Hits in She hits the ball is active, while hit in The ball was hit is passive.

  5. In He was hit by the ball, hit is a passive verb.

Origin and Etymology of passive

Middle English, from Latin passivus, from passus, past participle of pati


First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of passive

inactive, idle, inert, passive, supine mean not engaged in work or activity. inactive applies to anyone or anything not in action or in operation or at work. on inactive status as an astronaut inactive accounts idle applies to persons that are not busy or occupied or to their powers or their implements. workers were idle in the fields inert as applied to things implies powerlessness to move or to affect other things; as applied to persons it suggests an inherent or habitual indisposition to activity. inert ingredients in drugs an inert citizenry passive implies immobility or lack of normally expected response to an external force or influence and often suggests deliberate submissiveness or self-control. passive resistance supine applies only to persons and commonly implies abjectness or indolence. a supine willingness to play the fool

2

passive

play
noun pas·sive \ˈpa-siv\

Definition of passive

  1. 1 :  a verb form whose grammatical subject is subjected to or affected by the action represented by that verb :  a passive verb form

  2. 2 :  the passive voice of a language

Origin and Etymology of passive

see 1passive


First Known Use: 1530

Other Grammar and Linguistics Terms



PASSIVE Defined for English Language Learners

1

passive

play
adjective pas·sive \ˈpa-siv\

Definition of passive for English Language Learners

  • —used to describe someone who allows things to happen or who accepts what other people do or decide without trying to change anything

  • grammar of a verb or voice : showing that the subject of a sentence is acted on or affected by the verb

  • : containing a passive verb form


PASSIVE Defined for Kids

passive

play
adjective pas·sive \ˈpa-siv\

Definition of passive for Students

  1. 1 :  not taking an active part We were passive spectators.

  2. 2 :  showing that the person or thing represented by the subject is acted on by the verb The phrase “were met” in “we were met by our friends” is passive.

  3. 3 :  offering no resistance The captives showed passive obedience.

passively

adverb

Medical Dictionary

passive

play
adjective pas·sive \ˈpas-iv\

Medical Definition of passive

  1. 1a (1):  lethargic or lacking in energy or will (2):  tending not to take an active or dominant part a passive spouseb:  induced by an outside agency passive exercise of a paralyzed leg

  2. 2a:  of, relating to, or characterized by a state of chemical inactivityb:  not involving expenditure of chemical energy passive transport across a plasma membrane

  3. 3:  producing passive immunity passive immunotherapy

passively

adverb

passiveness

noun

Law Dictionary

passive

play
adjective pas·sive \ˈpa-siv\

Legal Definition of passive

  1. :  not involving, deriving from, or requiring effort or active participation imposed a passive duty not to interfere; specifically :  of, relating to, or being business activity in which the investor does not have immediate control over the income-producing activity passive income passive losses

passively

adverb

passiveness

noun

Additional Notes on passive

Under the Internal Revenue Code, there are two sources of passive income: rental activity and a business in which the taxpayer does not materially participate.



Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up passive? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

not embarrassed or apologetic

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • winning-words-from-the-national-spelling-bee-logo
  • Which is the correct spelling of the winning word from 1988?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!