1. not reacting visibly to something that might be expected to produce manifestations of an emotion or feeling.
  2. not participating readily or actively; inactive: a passive member of a committee.
  3. not involving visible reaction or active participation: to play a passive role.
  4. inert or quiescent.
  5. influenced, acted upon, or affected by some external force, cause, or agency; being the object of action rather than causing action (opposed to active).
  6. receiving or characterized by the reception of impressions or influences from external sources.
  7. produced or caused by an external agency.
  8. receiving, enduring, or submitting without resistance: a passive hypnotic subject.
  9. Grammar.
    1. noting a voice in the inflection of the verb in some languages which is used to indicate that the subject undergoes the action of the verb. Latin portātur, “he, she, or it is carried,” is in the passive voice.
    2. noting or pertaining to a construction similar to this in meaning, as English He is carried (opposed to active).
  10. Chemistry. inactive, especially under conditions in which chemical activity is to be expected.
  11. Metallurgy. (of a metal) treated so as to impart impassivity.
  12. Medicine/Medical. of or relating to certain unhealthy but dormant conditions; inactive, as opposed to active or spontaneous.
  13. Telecommunications. designed to relay signals without electronic devices: a passive communications satellite.
  14. (of a solar heating system) accumulating and distributing solar heat without the aid of machinery.

noun Grammar.

  1. the passive voice.
  2. a passive form or construction.


  1. not active or not participating perceptibly in an activity, organization, etc
  2. unresisting and receptive to external forces; submissive
  3. not working or operating
  4. affected or acted upon by an external object or force
  5. grammar denoting a voice of verbs in sentences in which the grammatical subject is not the logical subject but rather the recipient of the action described by the verb, as was broken in the sentence The glass was broken by a boyCompare active (def. 5a)
  6. chem (of a substance, esp a metal) apparently chemically unreactive, usually as a result of the formation of a thin protective layer that prevents further reaction
  7. electronics telecomm
    1. containing no source of power and therefore capable only of attenuating a signala passive network
    2. not capable of amplifying a signal or controlling a functiona passive communications satellite
  8. finance (of a bond, share, debt, etc) yielding no interest


  1. grammar
    1. the passive voice
    2. a passive verb

adj.late 14c., in grammatical sense (opposed to active), Old French passif “suffering, undergoing hardship” (14c.) and directly from Latin passivus “capable of feeling or suffering,” from pass-, past participle stem of pati “to suffer” (see passion). Meaning “not active” is first recorded late 15c.; sense of “enduring suffering without resistance” is from 1620s. Related: Passively. Passive resistance first attested 1819 in Scott’s “Ivanhoe,” used throughout 19c.; re-coined by Gandhi c.1906 in South Africa. Passive-aggressive with reference to behavior is attested by 1971. n.

  1. Accepting or submitting without resistance or objection.
  2. Of or being an inactive or submissive role in a relationship, especially a sexual relationship.
  3. Chemically unreactive except under special or extreme conditions; inert.

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