There are 2 main definitions of pass in English:

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pass 1

Pronunciation: /pas/


1Move or cause to move in a specified direction: [no object]: he passed through towns and villages the shells from the Allied guns were passing very low overhead [with object]: he passed a weary hand across his forehead pass an electric current through it
More example sentences
  • A shiver passed along her body.
  • You travel along the coast and have some great views of the scenery, passing through several towns along the way.
  • Geoff said people will get the best view at about midnight each night when Mars passes directly overhead.
go, proceed, move, progress, make one's way, travel
1.1Change from one state or condition to another: homes that have passed from public to private ownership
More example sentences
  • Iron has the property of readily passing from one valency condition to the other, as connects iron with the rhythmic breathing process.
  • We show that channels pass through a dilated condition with altered selectivity as they are becoming defunct.
  • But if the copyright is not worth even $1 to the owner, then we believe the work should pass into the public domain.
1.2 euphemistic, chiefly North American Die (used euphemistically): his father had passed to the afterlife she passed away peacefully in her sleep a good and decent man has passed on
More example sentences
  • After my father passed away, my sisters got married, but I told my mother I didn't want to get married so soon.
  • Life was difficult after her father passed away in 1946 and eventually the family farm was sold.
  • Sadly, my father, Roy, passed away in August 2001 after a two-year battle with cancer.
2 [with object] Go past or across; leave behind or on one side in proceeding: she passed a rest area with a pay phone the two vehicles had no room to pass each other [no object]: we will not let you pass
More example sentences
  • Whenever I pass the old drive-in cinema south of the Heavitree Gap, I get a melancholy feeling.
  • All drivers have to do to pass each other safely is to stay on their side of the road.
  • We passed the Greenbank station and went down to the railroads shops just a mile or two down the road.
2.1Go beyond the limits of; surpass; exceed: this item has passed its sell-by date
More example sentences
  • Changes in the market started way back when the Nasdaq passed its peak last year.
  • At some point the limit of acceptable risk has been passed.
  • On the plus side the group has already passed its peak capital investment on the network.
surpass, exceed, transcend
2.2 Tennis Hit a winning shot past (an opponent).
Example sentences
  • He chased down every drop shot and passed Nastase with ease.
  • He saves the first with a fine backhand volley but is passed by his opponent on the next.
  • He began the finals last week in his customary way of drawing Richards, the best volleyer in the world, to the net so that he could win points by passing him.
3 [no object] (Of time or a point in time) elapse; go by: the day and night passed slowly the moment had passed
More example sentences
  • A moment of silence passed and he slowly lowered his arm, as if he had thought better of it.
  • The weeks passed slowly, but I never had a moments rest to think about anything.
  • The evening passes agonisingly slowly.
elapse, go by/past, advance, wear on, roll by, tick by
3.1Happen; be done or said: not another word passed between them [with complement]: this fact has passed almost unnoticed
More example sentences
  • Even now, after all that passed between us, I think what he told us was basically true.
  • It seems reasonably clear that something passed between them on the subject.
  • Something else had passed between them, she felt sure of it.
literary befall
go (unnoticed), stand, go unremarked, go undisputed
3.2 [with object] Spend or use up (a period of time): this was how they passed the time
More example sentences
  • The villagers pass the long winter nights by listening to stories.
  • Without television, radio, or books, the bath was one way to pass the cold winter days.
  • When I was awake I passed the time by munching on bags of sweets.
occupy, spend, fill, use (up), employ, while away
3.3Come to an end: the danger had passed
More example sentences
  • The issue has waited until well after electoral danger has passed before emerging.
  • They holed themselves up until the danger had passed.
  • Remember that half-hardy and tender plants should not be planted out until all danger of frost has passed.
abate, fade (away), come to an end, blow over, run its course, die out, finish, end, cease, subside
4 [with object] Transfer (something) to someone, especially by handing or bequeathing it to the next person in a series: your letter has been passed to Mr. Rich for action please pass the fish [with two objects]: he passed her a cup
More example sentences
  • If you're fed up paying too much for petrol, please pass this message on.
  • Will you please pass the salt, I don't think these French fries were salted.
  • Please pass this information on to anyone you know who may be interested.
hand (over), give, reach
4.1 [no object] Be transferred from one person or place to another, especially by inheritance: infections can pass from mother to child at birth if Ann remarried the estate would pass to her new husband
More example sentences
  • As Mrs Bennet complained, it was cruel for the estate to pass to a Mr Collins ‘whom nobody cared about’.
  • Both landlord and tenant have legal estates which may pass to others on sale, by way of gift or under the rules of testate or intestate succession.
  • It is well known that cells from the blood of the foetus can pass to the mother during pregnancy.
be transferred, go, be left, be bequeathed, be handed down/on, be passed on;
Law  devolve
4.2(In football, soccer, hockey, and other games) throw, kick, or hit (the ball or puck) to another player on one’s own team.
Example sentences
  • Everybody wants to dunk and showboat, but few can make free throws or pass the ball.
  • But Todd was disappointed with only a point and felt his side should have passed the ball a lot better.
  • The game starts and the ball is passed from player to player.
kick, hit, throw, lob
4.3Put (something, especially money) into circulation: persons who have passed bad checks
More example sentences
  • One of my earlier cases was investigating a bad cheque that had been passed at a local merchant.
  • When the FBI grabs him for passing counterfeit money, he cuts a deal.
  • She was given community service after admitting passing counterfeit currency.
4.4 [no object] (Especially of money) circulate; be current: cash was passing briskly
More example sentences
  • The rent currently passing under the lease is £10, 660.00 per annum.
  • Does it matter that there is real money passing in some and not others?
  • The significant difference here is that no money passed at the first meeting.
5 [with object] (Of a candidate) be successful in (an examination, test, or course): she passed her driving test
More example sentences
  • There is an intense pressure on them to be successful - to pass exams and tests.
  • Applicants must pass a written test.
  • Every two years they have to take a refresher course and pass the test.
be successful in, succeed in, gain a pass in, get through
informal sail through, scrape through
5.1Judge the performance or standard of (someone or something) to be satisfactory: [with object and complement]: he was passed fit by army doctors
More example sentences
  • I have a license with the Nevada State Athletic Commission and they have passed me fit to box.
  • In fact, if he is passed fit to play following his ankle ligament injury, he will suffer from a serious lack of match fitness.
  • He was passed fit to ride by the doctor on Saturday morning.
5.2 [no object] Be accepted as adequate; go uncensured: she couldn’t agree, but let it pass her rather revealing dress passed without comment
More example sentences
  • Harry had been ready to let it pass, to accept his confession, and he had refused that.
  • I feel that he does not believe me and although this is hard for me to accept I let it pass.
  • A boy was bitten by his neighbour's dog but his parents just let it pass because they thought the boy was not seriously injured.
5.3 [no object] (pass as/for) Be accepted as or taken for: he could pass for a native of Sweden
More example sentences
  • They watch the corporate owned media and accept the garbage passed as news.
  • We feel obliged to come up with something that passes as native.
  • We have to accept that most of what passes for knowledge cannot be proved beyond all doubt.
be mistaken for, be taken for, be accepted as
6 [with object] (Of a legislative or other official body) approve or put into effect (a proposal or law) by voting on it: the bill was passed despite fierce opposition
More example sentences
  • In our system of government, he said, the legislature passes laws and then the executive interprets them.
  • Laws are passed with retrospective effect, late at night with bipartisan support and virtually no debate.
  • Laws are passed by legislatures on the basis of necessity, rather than morality.
6.1 [no object] (Of a proposal or law) be examined and approved by (a legislative body or process): the bill passed by 164 votes to 107
More example sentences
  • That plan passed the Senate but died in the House as lawmakers wrapped up work to adjourn for the year.
  • While the voucher scheme did not pass Congress, the testing proposals passed both the House and the Senate.
  • The bill was removed from the legislature's schedule, together with other bills that failed to pass committee review.
approve, vote for, accept, ratify, adopt, agree to, authorize, endorse, legalize, enact
informal OK
7 [with object] Pronounce (a judgment or judicial sentence): passing judgment on these crucial issues it is now my duty to pass sentence upon you
More example sentences
  • The judicial decision must be made before sentence is passed and the decision must be made obvious by the judge.
  • The Court also declared that only a member of the judiciary could pass a sentence and that this was out of the remit of the Home Secretary.
  • On that day the Crown invited the court to proceed to pass sentence on both defendants, and to postpone the determination of a confiscation order.
declare, pronounce, utter, express, deliver, issue
7.1Utter (something, especially criticism): she would pass remarks about the Paxtons in their own house
More example sentences
  • Everyone thought they had the right to pass comment and judgement on her.
  • Justine said that when in company some people had passed remarks such as: ‘Have you tried to kill yourself?’
  • They were young guys themselves and they kept passing comments.
7.2 [no object] (pass on/upon) archaic Adjudicate or give a judgment on: a jury could not be trusted to pass upon the question of Endicott’s good faith
More example sentences
  • In the theory of our legal system that is a matter for a jury to pass upon, not for judges, though judges have to do it in the retrospective courts of criminal appeal.
  • Why do we not think in terms of your right, prima facie, unless it is a very clear case, to have the matter passed upon by a jury of fellow citizens?
  • If the hypothesis is that good practice suggests that the jury should pass upon the differentiation, then procedure just has to bend to the resolution of the question.
8 [with object] Discharge (something, especially urine or feces) from the body: frequency of passing urine
More example sentences
  • Men may have a discharge, pain on passing urine or painful testicles.
  • This is simply to help relax the muscles - no urine will actually be passed.
  • Catheters are thin flexible tubes which are inserted into the bladder to allow urine to be passed.
discharge, excrete, evacuate, expel, emit, release
9 [no object] Forgo one’s turn in a game or an offered opportunity: we pass on dessert and have coffee
More example sentences
  • Thank you for the offer, but I think I'd better pass.
  • I had three opportunities to sell, all of which I passed on because I thought something bigger and better was coming.
  • We passed on a sweet and ordered a second bottle of fizz instead.
9.1 [as exclamation] Said when one does not know the answer to a question, for example in a quizzing game: to the enigmatic question we answered “Pass.”
More example sentences
  • A fellow was asked a few questions on 20th Century Irish history, and he kept saying ‘pass’, to every question.
  • It is easy enough to say ‘Pass’ at once when I know that I don't know and have never known the answer to a question.
9.2 [with object] (Of a company) not declare or pay (a dividend).
Example sentences
  • When the Company passed its dividend in 1867, the value of its shares fell sharply.
  • They'll have to pass their dividend.
  • It passed its halfyear dividend and turnover fell almost 30 per cent.
9.3 Bridge Make no bid when it is one’s turn during an auction.
Example sentences
  • Some play that if the first three players pass, the dealer is not allowed to pass, but must bid.
  • If at least one bid was made, the auction ends when two players have passed.
  • Each bid must be higher than the previous one, and a player who does not wish to bid can pass.
9.4 [with object] Bridge Make no bid in response to (one’s partner’s bid): East had passed his partner’s opening bid of one club
More example sentences
  • East held the king of spades along with the queen of clubs and passed his partner's bid.
  • When three successive players have passed the bid the bidding is complete.


1An act or instance of moving past or through something: repeated passes with the swipe card an unmarked plane had been making passes over his house
More example sentences
  • The fresh bull is put through its paces by the banderillos and the matadors, who will make some passes to study its movement and pace.
  • Ben flew his first eight night passes, and we departed the pattern for our side-to-side crew swap.
  • A seaplane operated by protest groups made several passes over the area.
1.1 informal An amorous or sexual advance made to someone: she made a pass at Stephen
More example sentences
  • Rick had made a pass at her little sister.
  • His gay feelings were aroused by a man who made a pass at him in the cinema.
  • He and the woman were having a drink together when she made a pass at him.
make (sexual) advances to, proposition
informal come on to, make a play for, hit on, make time with, put the make on
1.2An act of passing the hands over anything, as in conjuring or hypnotism.
Example sentences
  • At the end of his prayer he made a pass with his hands, and suddenly his mind was filled with the image of his master, dead in his chambers.
  • Before the startled girl could move, the witch made a pass with her hands and muttered a spell and the girl was instantly transformed into a bird.
  • As he spoke, he made a magician's pass, and a microphone appeared in his hand.
1.3A thrust in fencing.
Example sentences
  • Agrippa taught this form of shoulder thrust along with the common use of the pass.
  • He fells them with one sweeping pass of his sword.
  • He cut off the attacker's hand with a single pass, but another blade had already found his left side exposed.
1.4A juggling trick.
Example sentences
  • In this case you juggle 4 for a bit, throw a pass and then juggle 3 for a bit.
1.5 Bridge An act of refraining from bidding during the auction.
Example sentences
  • The bidding ends after two consecutive passes.
  • The player that opened with a pass may respond by doubling the bid, in which case the usual procedure is followed.
1.6 Computing A single scan through a set of data or a program.
Example sentences
  • The whole thing can now be done with a single pass, using a single repository and that's a big boon.
  • You can also overwrite the disk with one or more passes of random data, though this additional step is not necessary.
  • In all honesty, I have yet to create a regular expression in my work without a couple of passes to get it exactly right.
2A successful completion of an examination or course: [as modifier]: a 100 percent pass rate
More example sentences
  • Drivers are expected to fork out £53 of their own money to take the test which has a pass rate of just 35 per cent.
  • At Manchester High School for Girls the pass rate was 100 per cent.
  • She was delighted with the results and the overall pass rate of 97 per cent.
2.1US The grade indicating this.
Example sentences
  • He was put forward for the exam this summer after teachers spotted his unusual ability for the subject and got a grade B pass.
  • He earned seven A * and two A grade passes.
  • Meanwhile, Windermere St Anne's held true to the trend of escalating A grade passes.
2.2British An achievement of a university degree without honors: [as modifier]: a pass degree
More example sentences
  • They include those who come down from University with no other qualification than a pass degree and perhaps a Blue, and no prospects whatsoever.
  • The University of London revealed she only achieved a pass in her degree.
  • He went on to Christ's College, Cambridge, took a pass degree, and became a clergyman.
3A card, ticket, or permit giving authorization for the holder to enter or have access to a place, form of transportation, or event.
Example sentences
  • All personnel on duty in Portsmouth for the duration of the festival will get special passes giving free access.
  • My media pass only permitted access to the Grandstand, where the dress rules were more relaxed.
  • Entry to the event is free, but strictly through student ID cards or passes.
4(In football, soccer, hockey, and other games) an act of throwing, kicking, or hitting the ball or puck to another player on the same team.
Example sentences
  • The players were subdued, passes went astray, and the game lost any intensity.
  • He's throwing short and intermediate passes with laserlike accuracy but must improve on the deep ball.
  • He became reluctant to run the ball when pressured and sometimes threw ill-timed passes.
kick, hit, throw, cross, lateral (pass)
5A state or situation of a specified, usually bad or difficult, nature: this is a sad pass for a fixture that used to crackle with excitement
More example sentences
  • It is unlikely that the situation will ever come to such a pass because good sense is ultimately bound to prevail.
  • This marks a sad pass for a brand name that, while dreaded by many parents, spelled excitement to a generation of kids.
  • But don't you see, my poor darling, that loyalty is a silly virtue in the pass we are in?



come to a pretty pass

Reach a bad or regrettable state of affairs.
Example sentences
  • ‘If a 79-year-old married couple cannot feel safe in their home then this country is coming to a pretty pass,’ he said.
  • Pity about the Lions as well, as I have said before, this time last year perhaps, it comes to a pretty pass when I have to rely on the England cricket team for some sporting success…
  • We have come to a pretty pass when Scotland's chief quango is pilloried, just because it has forgotten to apply for £32m due to it (or, rather, to the Scottish public) from the European Union.

pass the baton

see baton.

pass the buck

see buck3.

pass one's eye over

Read (a document) cursorily.
Example sentences
  • My best friend is a libel lawyer, so I would get him to pass his eye over it as well.
  • I have passed my eye over as many passages of the 'Southern Farmer and Market Gardener,' as time and circumstances permitted me to do.
  • She has agreed to pass her eye over my personal journal and point out the typos.

pass the hat

see hat.

pass one's lips

see lip.

pass muster

see muster.

pass the parcel

see parcel.

pass the time of day

see time.

pass water

Example sentences
  • A special ‘urine police’ squad is to be launched under plans to halt the damage being caused to historic buildings by men passing water on them.
  • He would cast doubt on the manliness of a player by asserting that he could only carry out the bodily function of passing water while in a sitting position.
  • We were both passing water in to the same toilet bowl, and he was telling me in faltering English how proud he was to be part of this company.

Phrasal verbs


pass someone by

Happen without being noticed or fully experienced by someone: sometimes I feel that life is passing me by
More example sentences
  • If you are not accustomed to being up at this hour, it's one of those pleasures in life that is passing you by.
  • In a fret about how life is passing us by, we feel compelled to draw up a list of all our faults and failures.
  • We were blissfully unaware of the days passing us by.

pass off

(Of proceedings) happen or be carried through in a specified, usually satisfactory, way: the weekend had passed off entirely without incident
More example sentences
  • Buskers and street artists performed at every corner and the entire proceedings passed off without a hitch.
  • It's up to me to make sure everything passes off without a hitch.
  • We will be policing this event appropriately, to make sure the rally passes off without incident.
misrepresent, falsely represent;

pass something off

1Evade or lightly dismiss an awkward remark: he made a light joke and passed it off
More example sentences
  • When I meet him, he tries to pass it off with a joke.
  • Simpson now passes the comment off as ‘a joke’.
  • It seemed as if he meant to pass it off as a casual observation.
2 Basketball Throw the ball to a teammate who is unguarded: he scored eight times and passed off six assists
More example sentences
  • Paul quickly picked up on Will's style and was able to quickly pass the ball off to his other teammates before Will could steal it.
  • Instead of taking the ball to the hoop, for a lay-up, the guy passes the ball off and continues the offense.
  • That meant he would have to shoot from long range or try to drive and pass the ball off.

pass someone/something off as

Falsely represent a person or thing as (something else): the drink was packaged in champagne bottles and was being passed off as the real stuff
More example sentences
  • She took a great delight in telling everybody she spoke to that it was my birthday and even tried to pass me off as five years younger than I actually was.
  • The disturbing issue is that this advertisement was passed off as a legitimate newsworthy article in the sports section.
  • Making assumptions and passing them off as truth is a poor reflection on someone's character.

pass out

1Become unconscious: he consumed enough alcohol to make him pass out
More example sentences
  • The court heard the woman passed out and was dragged unconscious from the creek.
  • After being released on probation, he ended up passing out drunk and was picked up by police.
  • She doesn't help matters by getting totally drunk every night and passing out, only to wake in the morning with no memory of what she's done.
faint, lose consciousness, black out
2British Complete one’s initial training in the armed forces.
Example sentences
  • He was the fittest recruit to pass out of training for the Royal Marines.
  • He ended up in the Territorial Army, joined the Commandos and passed out at Sandhurst as an officer in the Welsh Regiment.
  • Martin successfully passed out at the Royal Marines training centre in Devon.
3(Of bridge players) not play a hand because all players have passed.
Example sentences
  • If all four players pass on their first turn to speak the hand is said to be passed out.
  • This is passed out and Laura comes down with a 10-count including 3 hearts.
  • In second seat my hand looked awful to me, so I passed, and it was passed out.

pass someone over

Ignore the claims of someone to promotion or advancement: he was passed over for a cabinet job
More example sentences
  • The technician, who claimed she had been passed over for promotion and was being paid 30% less than her male colleagues, was awarded $37,000.
  • You passed me over for promotion.
  • You want me to pass you over for promotions and pay you less for doing the same job?

pass something over

Avoid mentioning or considering something: I shall pass over the matter of the transitional period
More example sentences
  • Indeed, in Yorkshire records at the time and subsequently, the event is passed over with scant mention.
  • These omissions of authors and the selectivity silently practised with included authors is to be expected, though its ramifications are passed over.
  • Certain highly sensitive subjects might be passed over for legitimate national security reasons.
disregard, overlook, ignore, pay no attention to, let pass, gloss over, take no notice of, pay no heed to, turn a blind eye to

pass something up

Refrain from taking up an opportunity: he passed up a career in pro baseball
More example sentences
  • It was a once in a lifetime opportunity, so I could not pass it up.
  • Well, sir, I don't know too many men who, given the opportunity to serve on a boat like the Seaview would pass it up!
  • My grandfather has been going to the races for years, and when he got the opportunity to buy this car, he didn't pass it up.
turn down, reject, refuse, decline, give up, forgo, let pass, miss (out on)


Middle English: from Old French passer, based on Latin passus 'pace'.

  • pace from Middle English:

    The word pace comes via Old French pas from Latin passus ‘stretch (of the leg)’. As well as stepping, it also meant ‘journey, route’ in early examples. To be put through your paces arose in the mid 18th century from horse-riding. The notion of ‘tempo’ as in change of pace is from the 1950s while pace yourself is only found from the 1970s. Other words from the same root are pass in the sense to go by, passage (Middle English); passenger (Middle English) the ‘n’ added to conform with words like ‘messenger’; and expand, literally to stretch out. The Old French form of expand, espandre, has the special sense of ‘to shed, spill, pour out’ and is the origin of to spawn (Late Middle English).

Words that rhyme with pass

brass, carse, class, coup de grâce, farce, glass, grass, Grasse, impasse, Kars, kick-ass, kvass, Laplace, Maas, Madras, outclass, sparse, stained glass, surpass, upper class, volte-face
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There are 2 main definitions of pass in English:

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pass 2

Pronunciation: /pas/


1A route over or through mountains: the pass over the mountain was open again after the snows [in place names]: the Khyber Pass
More example sentences
  • Beware of what appear to be shortcuts on maps - these often turn out to be unpaved roads or mountain passes.
  • By late afternoon they had reached the valley of the mountain pass and the south road.
  • The mountain pass is a difficult road to travel and it appears as though you are not apothecaries or wandering salesmen.
route, way, road, passage, cut, gap, notch
1.1A passage for fish over or past a weir or dam.
Example sentences
  • Fish were currently unable to bypass the weir because the fish pass was not operating, he said.
  • Coffey argues that this was always possible when the existing fish pass at the Weir was properly maintained.
  • They died because a fish pass was built using incorrect water levels.
1.2US A navigable channel, especially at the mouth of a river: Sabine Pass
More example sentences
  • Looking down from the mouth of the pass, I could see now that a lot of our members wouldn't make it before the storm broke.
  • The rank of men at the mouth of the pass trying to hold back the bulk of Kasra's army forcing its way through the valley began to crumble.
  • The regiment stood there howling victory as the other armies ran toward the mouth of the pass.


head (or cut) someone/something off at the pass

Forestall someone or something: the doctor’s aim to head the infection off at the pass
More example sentences
  • I imagine such frivolous technological pursuits will be headed off at the pass, since the vet has staked a prior claim on my wallet.
  • If you haven't headed it off at the pass with some chemicals, you lie there shaking and shivering like a Maltese poodle in the mouth of a bull terrier.
  • If we get to grips with them early enough, if we could identify them and head them off at the pass, then I think the problem would be largely resolved.


Middle English (in the sense 'division of a text, passage through'): variant of pace1, influenced by pass1 and French pas.

  • pace from Middle English:

    The word pace comes via Old French pas from Latin passus ‘stretch (of the leg)’. As well as stepping, it also meant ‘journey, route’ in early examples. To be put through your paces arose in the mid 18th century from horse-riding. The notion of ‘tempo’ as in change of pace is from the 1950s while pace yourself is only found from the 1970s. Other words from the same root are pass in the sense to go by, passage (Middle English); passenger (Middle English) the ‘n’ added to conform with words like ‘messenger’; and expand, literally to stretch out. The Old French form of expand, espandre, has the special sense of ‘to shed, spill, pour out’ and is the origin of to spawn (Late Middle English).

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