passive

adjective
pas·​sive | \ ˈpa-siv How to pronounce passive (audio) \

Definition of passive

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a(1) : acted upon by an external agency
(2) : receptive to outside impressions or influences
b(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 form
c(1) : lacking in energy or will : lethargic
(2) : tending not to take an active or dominant part
d : induced by an outside agency passive exercise of a paralyzed leg
2a : not active or operating : inert
b : of, relating to, or making direct use of the sun's heat usually without the intervention of mechanical devices a passive solar house
c : latent
d : of, relating to, or characterized by a state of chemical inactivity especially : resistant to corrosion
e of an electronic element : exhibiting no gain or control
f : relating to the detection of an object through its emission of energy or sound passive sonar
3a : receiving or enduring without resistance : submissive
b : existing or occurring without being active, open, or direct passive support
4 : of, relating to, or being business activity in which the investor does not actively participate in the generation of income

passive

noun
pas·​sive | \ ˈpa-siv How to pronounce passive (audio) \

Definition of passive (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a verb form whose grammatical subject is subjected to or affected by the action represented by that verb : a passive verb form
2 : the passive voice of a language

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Other Words from passive

Adjective

passively adverb
passiveness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for passive

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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Choose the Right Synonym for passive

Adjective

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

Examples of passive in a Sentence

Adjective 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 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 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 “Hits” in “She hits the ball” is active, while “hit” in “The ball was hit” is passive. In “He was hit by the ball,” “hit” is a passive verb.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Victor Vance is a bit too passive in the early storyline, being pulled in many directions by other more dynamic and active characters, including Cassidy. Ade D. Adeniji, Wired, 6 June 2021 The Blazers were physical and aggressive on defense, getting in Nuggets’ chests in Game 4, and Porter Jr. was passive. oregonlive, 31 May 2021 In a passive model, a patient may look at trees through a window (such as in Ulrich’s 1984 study), look at paintings of nature, or watch a video of a nature walk. Laken Brooks, Forbes, 29 May 2021 Some try to be more passive early and work the count, and other teams have been pretty aggressive early on. Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 29 May 2021 Your guy's choice to use your own past against you is passive aggressive and disrespectful. Amy Dickinson, Star Tribune, 28 May 2021 Hinduja recommends focusing on resilience, which means staying calm and shrugging off name-calling, insults, and passive-aggressive behavior. Estelle Erasmus, Wired, 26 May 2021 Her match, 57-year-old Forrest Daniels, had been very passive in dating but also extremely busy. Washington Post, 20 May 2021 The European auto industry has been largely passive, at least in public, as the EU cranked up plans to cut CO2 from cars and trucks. Neil Winton, Forbes, 13 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Janet Randall, a psycholinguist at Northeastern University, has found that rendering these instructions in plain English, stripping out passives and legalese especially, makes them much easier to interpret. The Economist, 14 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'passive.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of passive

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

Noun

1530, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for passive

Adjective and Noun

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

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Time Traveler for passive

Time Traveler

The first known use of passive was in the 14th century

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Statistics for passive

Last Updated

11 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Passive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/passive. Accessed 16 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for passive

passive

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of passive

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

adjective
pas·​sive | \ ˈpa-siv How to pronounce passive (audio) \

Kids Definition of passive

1 : not taking an active part We were passive spectators.
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 : offering no resistance passive acceptance of the decision

Other Words from passive

passively adverb

passive

adjective
pas·​sive | \ ˈpas-iv How to pronounce passive (audio) \

Medical Definition of passive

1a(1) : lethargic or lacking in energy or will
(2) : tending not to take an active or dominant part a passive spouse
b : induced by an outside agency passive exercise of a paralyzed leg
2a : of, relating to, or characterized by a state of chemical inactivity
b : not involving expenditure of chemical energy passive transport across a plasma membrane
3 : producing passive immunity passive immunotherapy

Other Words from passive

passively adverb
passiveness noun

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passive

adjective
pas·​sive | \ ˈpa-siv How to pronounce passive (audio) \

Legal Definition of passive

: 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

Note: 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.

Other Words from passive

passively adverb
passiveness noun

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