passive

adjective
pas·sive | \ ˈpa-siv \

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 \

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 \ 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

Much of it will be passive, as people engage in all kinds of activities—liking social-media posts, listening to music, recommending restaurants—that generate the data needed to power new services. The Economist, "What if people were paid for their data?," 7 July 2018 Passat protects occupants with passive and active electronic and mechanical safety features, engineered to meet or exceed current crash regulations. Emma Jayne Williams, star-telegram, "VW upgrades the Passat’s base engine for 2018, adds sporty new GT version | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 10 Mar. 2018 For the first six months of 2018 passive inflows were down 44%, compared with the same period a year earlier. Justin Baer, WSJ, "The Investor Fever for Passive Funds Is Cooling in 2018," 13 July 2018 These three apartments offer renters the coveted ability to wash their unmentionables without scrounging for quarters or passive-aggressively trading notes about neighbors in a communal laundry room. Shannon Rooney, Philly.com, "Three Philly apartments under $2,500 a month - with coveted private laundry," 11 July 2018 This rather misses the logic of indexing as a passive strategy. The Economist, "The growth of index investing has not made markets less efficient," 5 July 2018 Black college students who engaged in peaceful sit-ins at lunch counters that denied them service because of the color of their skin were criticized for behavior that, however passive, appeared provocative to defenders of the status quo. Peniel E. Joseph, Washington Post, "America’s nonviolent civil rights movement was considered uncivil by critics at the time," 4 July 2018 The unspoken subtext was that operators had been reduced to passive bystanders on their own trains. William Finnegan, The New Yorker, "Can Andy Byford Save the Subways?," 2 July 2018 The middle and southern portions in the new scheme will include an amphitheater, an arboretum with natural plantings, a cross-country trail and other passive, low-maintenance green space. Bill Banks, ajc, "Plan for old UMCH property favors passive, ‘park-like’ green space," 30 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

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

Noun

see passive entry 1

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Phrases Related to passive

passive vocabulary

Statistics for passive

Last Updated

1 Sep 2018

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

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

adjective
pas·sive | \ ˈpa-siv \

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 \

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 \

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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