pas·​siv·​i·​ty pa-ˈsi-və-tē How to pronounce passivity (audio)
: the quality or state of being passive : passiveness
The only thing that I find more depressing than this charlatan is the passivity of the museum-goers who pass before his works: they may have an inkling that they are being had, but they are unable to trust the evidence of their eyes.Jed Perl
… and now she was condemned to years of genteel English poverty by a passivity stubborn as low-grade fever.Vivian Gornick
The implication—that American policy makers had, out of some combination of timorous passivity and treasonous perfidy, lost China to Communism—set off one of the darkest-ever turns in American civic life.Daniel Kurtz-Phelan
chemistry : a chemically inactive state
used especially of a metal that has lost its normal chemical activity and is resistant to corrosion
The lower limit of 11% is based on the markedly increased corrosion resistance and spontaneous passivity obtained at this level.Donald H. DeClerck et al.

Examples of passivity in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Iran’s decision to respond this time was partly prompted by the fury in some circles of Iranian society at Iran’s previous passivity, according to Ali Vaez, an Iran analyst. Patrick Kingsley, New York Times, 14 Apr. 2024 Occasionally, administration officials would share with reporters conflicting diplomatic rationales that supposedly justified their passivity. The Editors, National Review, 12 Jan. 2024 Nonviolence should not be confused with passivity: as a form of protest, nonviolence is a practice that exposes violence. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, 28 Feb. 2024 Whether worn in the street, on public transit or even in the driver's seat, internet users seem to be torn between obsession and passivity. The Arizona Republic, 6 Feb. 2024 Despite the strange passivity of American leaders on both sides of the aisle in the face of authoritarian aggression, the U.S. remains ally-rich, effectively energy independent, militarily predominant, geographically secure, and technologically superior to its rivals. Daniel Twining, National Review, 23 Jan. 2024 Agreeableness morphing into passivity or withholding is the opposite of what workers, especially managers, want. Jane Thier, Fortune, 29 July 2023 But that kind of radical passivity can only go so far. David Sims, The Atlantic, 14 Feb. 2024 Schwalb’s ideological passivity is making this mayhem possible. The Editors, National Review, 2 Feb. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'passivity.' 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

1659, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of passivity was in 1659

Dictionary Entries Near passivity

Cite this Entry

“Passivity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2024.

Medical Definition


pas·​siv·​i·​ty pa-ˈsiv-ət-ē How to pronounce passivity (audio)
plural passivities
: the quality or state of being passive or submissive
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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