passive-aggressive

adjective

pas·​sive-ag·​gres·​sive ˈpa-siv-ə-ˈgre-siv How to pronounce passive-aggressive (audio)
: being, marked by, or displaying behavior characterized by the expression of negative feelings, resentment, and aggression in an unassertive passive way (as through procrastination and stubbornness)
It is passive-aggressive behavior, the donning of a mask of amiability that conceals raw antagonism toward one's competitors, even one's friends.Hilary De Vries
A passive-aggressive manager eschews open hostilities, in part because he feels distinctly uncomfortable with them.Walter Kiechel III
passive-aggressive noun

Examples of passive-aggressive in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web If a parent’s relationship with the child is shaky (read: contentious, angry, combative, passive-aggressive, fear-based), power struggles are more common. Meghan Leahy, Washington Post, 14 Feb. 2024 Phil is rude, disrespectful, stunningly immature, a bully, toxic and passive-aggressive. Jeanne Phillips, The Mercury News, 12 Feb. 2024 Cue the series of LeBron James cryptic tweet emojis and self-serving, passive-aggressive offhand comments to the press beginning in 3 … 2 … 1 … Richard Turnage Burbank Statue of limitations Kobe Bryant was ours. Los Angeles Times, 10 Feb. 2024 Mental health experts usually caution against using sarcasm as a form of humor in relationships or otherwise due to its ambivalent and often passive-aggressive nature. Mark Travers, Forbes, 9 Feb. 2024 There are aspects to your account that make your husband’s behavior toward you seem deliberately hostile, punitive and extremely passive-aggressive. Amy Dickinson, Washington Post, 11 Jan. 2024 There are aspects to your account that make your husband’s behavior toward you seem deliberately hostile, punitive, and extremely passive-aggressive. Amy Dickinson, Detroit Free Press, 11 Jan. 2024 Body positivity in this sense is almost always presented with a sneaky sprinkling of passive-aggressive degradation. Chloe Laws, Allure, 30 Nov. 2023 This idea works in many different contexts, delivering a weird sort of polite-seeming passive-aggressive satisfaction to the person uttering it. Amy Dickinson, Washington Post, 24 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'passive-aggressive.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1945, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of passive-aggressive was in 1945

Dictionary Entries Near passive-aggressive

Cite this Entry

“Passive-aggressive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/passive-aggressive. Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

Medical Definition

passive-aggressive

1 of 2 adjective
: being, marked by, or displaying behavior characterized by expression of negative feelings, resentment, and aggression in an unassertive way (as through procrastination, stubbornness, and unwillingness to communicate)
a passive-aggressive personality
passive-aggressively adverb

passive-aggressive

2 of 2 noun
: a passive-aggressive individual
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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