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
passivity \ pa-​ˈsi-​və-​tē How to pronounce passivity (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for passive

Synonyms: Adjective

acquiescent, nonresistant, resigned, tolerant, tolerating, unresistant, yielding

Antonyms: Adjective

protesting, resistant, resisting, unyielding

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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

Who, if anyone, has passive-aggressively left the family group chat? Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, "Why Am I So Obsessed With the Wives of Jonas?," 30 Apr. 2019 Children and teenagers are using their voices for social change and refusing to be passive in responding to how their countries approach key issues. Christian Allaire, Vogue, "Scenes From the Student-Led Global Climate Strike," 15 Mar. 2019 That night at the after party, Colton bonds with Katie while Tracy and Demi bicker about who is more passive aggressive. Anna Moeslein, Glamour, "The Bachelor Season 23, Episode 3 Recap: Elyse for Bachelorette?," 21 Jan. 2019 Any active treatment works better than a passive one. Isadora Baum, SELF, "7 Foam Rolling Mistakes You Should Avoid," 16 Mar. 2019 What the company does: With a diverse collection of more than 1,600 animals representing over 500 species and over 3,000 botanical specimens, the zoo has changed a passive visit into dynamic interaction and engaging experience. Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati.com, "Top Workplaces Cincinnati: Here's our region's best 45 midsize companies," 7 June 2018 These two are barely in the episode, and most of their scenes involve withering looks and passive aggression. Mehera Bonner, Harper's BAZAAR, "Bree Just Got Engaged to Someone Who Is Not Roger on Outlander," 14 Jan. 2019 China’s challenge of a U.S. destroyer near the Spratly Islands last month was an example of passive aggression. Seth Cropsey, WSJ, "How to Win a Cold War With Beijing," 25 Oct. 2018 Our advice for writing with a partner is the same as for staying in love: figure out the big stuff early on, and avoid, whenever possible, passive-aggressive red ink. Kathleen McFall and Clark Hays Portland, Ore. Naomi Fry, The New Yorker, "The Mail," 24 June 2018

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, "Too often juries comprise 12 confused men (and women)," 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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Statistics for passive

Last Updated

12 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for passive

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

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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 The captives showed passive obedience.

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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More from Merriam-Webster on passive

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with passive

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for passive

Spanish Central: Translation of passive

Nglish: Translation of passive for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of passive for Arabic Speakers

Comments on passive

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