Definition of passive in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈpasiv/


1Accepting or allowing what happens or what others do, without active response or resistance: the women were portrayed as passive victims
More example sentences
  • Historians are now concerned with resistance in active and passive forms, organised and impromptu, group and individual, male and female, political, economic, and cultural.
  • Active, not passive, response is called forth as is perseverance over the long haul.
  • As Hickey noted, peasants have many methods of passive and active resistance, and force is often counterproductive as a motivator.
submissive, acquiescent, unresisting, unassertive, compliant, pliant, obedient, docile, tractable, malleable, pliable
1.1 Chemistry (Of a metal) made unreactive by a thin inert surface layer of oxide.
Example sentences
  • This chromium oxide film is passive and stable, and it seals the base metal from exposure to the atmosphere, thereby precluding further oxidation.
  • The Nernst equation indicates whether passive K + uptake can be mediated by ion channels or if there is a need for carrier-mediated transport.
  • I expected that the passive design would require a greater cooling surface area - or at least, metal tubing instead of plastic hoses to provide better thermal dissipation.
1.2(Of a circuit or device) containing no source of electromotive force.
Example sentences
  • As the demand for optical reach continues to increase, passive filters are no longer sufficient, and greater individual wavelength control is required.
  • Most optical gas sensors are passive, relying on the inherent spectroscopic properties of the gases themselves.
  • The pipette is simply a passive device that enables the recording, whereas a planar electrode offers the opportunity to further integrate devices on chip.
1.3(Of radar or a satellite) receiving or reflecting radiation from a transmitter or target rather than generating its own signal.
Example sentences
  • System and method for determining the location of a transmitter using passive reflectors or refractors as proxy receivers and using database querying
  • It can be fired as a long-range standoff missile, or its all-aspect passive radar homing seeker can be used to detect and attack targets of opportunity.
  • The 82845GV GMCH is just adjacent, and is cooled by a rather small passive heatsink only.
1.4Relating to or denoting heating systems that make use of incident sunlight as an energy source.
Example sentences
  • A skylight can be an efficient and desirable source of passive solar heating, assuming that you need the heat.
  • Other systems include integrated wastewater treatment, photovoltaic electrical systems, solar hot water and passive solar heating.
  • Energy-conscious design may combine conservation methods, such as insulation and thermostat set-back, with passive solar heating.
2 Grammar Denoting or relating to a voice of verbs in which the subject undergoes the action of the verb (e.g., they were killed as opposed to he killed them). The opposite of active.
Example sentences
  • But the framers set a grammatical conundrum for us when they put the main clause in the passive voice: ‘shall not be infringed’.
  • Nominalization is one way to avoid reference to the agent of an action (here, who did the shooting), but it's not the same as using the passive voice.
  • The general pattern appears to be that the unmarked, active voice acts as a same function category, while the marked, passive voice indicates a switch in function.


1A passive form of a verb.
Example sentences
  • It was thought to be characterized by a fairly high proportion of such features as subordinate clauses, adjectives, the pronoun I and passives.
  • With this framework, one can see politeness strategies in regularities of scientific style - such as the use of pronouns and of passives - that are usually explained in terms of conventions.
  • But readies for does not occur at all, and the six occurrences of readied for are all passives (so they illustrate the transitive verb).
1.1 (the passive) The passive voice.
Example sentences
  • We have already observed that during the time of Hellenistic Greek, the middle voice form was losing ground to the passive.
  • This often works, but if you are writing in the active mood, the changes to the passive for the circumlocutions can be irksome.
  • But I really do hate passive voice and buried claims like the plague.



Pronunciation: /ˈpasivnəs/
Example sentences
  • They were well known for their political passiveness, a position supported by a deep-seated belief in impotency of ordinary folk in the face of political ambitions.
  • They have a poor memory, which is the direct result of their general passiveness in world politics, as well as their general apathy towards their immediate environment.
  • An increased awareness of the power of big business should provide an incentive to participate in the democratic process in order to end any passiveness on the part of the government.


Late Middle English (in sense 2 of the adjective, also in the sense '(exposed to) suffering, acted on by an external agency'): from Latin passivus, from pass- 'suffered', from the verb pati.

Words that rhyme with passive

impassive, massive

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: pas·sive

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