Definition of passive
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
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
3a : receiving or enduring without resistance : submissiveb : 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
passivityplay \pa-ˈsi-və-tē\ noun
Examples of passive in a Sentence
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.
Recent Examples of passive from the Web
The popularity of passive investment strategies and the market’s long-term positive trend has masked the fact that investors are holding a lot of stocks that are mediocre or worse.
Of course, nobody expects the White House will be a passive player in that process.
Non-interactive media consists of passive exposure to media.
Pisces: This week, stillness isn’t a passive project.
As a result, the market share of low-cost passive funds swelled to 32 percent in 2016, from 23 percent in 2012.
That land would be developed, along with the barn, for passive public use once the impoundment is completed.
This evolution from a passive naïf into a holy terror who rules by the fealty of her subjects is what has earned Daenerys, according to Clarke, the audience’s loyalty.
To Roley, Cincinnati's black community is not resigned to injustice and will not be passive.
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.
Origin and Etymology of passive
Middle English, from Latin passivus, from passus, past participle of pati
First Known Use: 14th centurySee Words from the same year
Synonym Discussion of passive
Definition of passive
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
PASSIVE Defined for English Language Learners
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
Definition of passive for Students
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.
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 spouseb: induced by an outside agency passive exercise of a paralyzed leg
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: producing passive immunity passive immunotherapy
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
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
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