What does passive mean?

Definitions for passive
ˈpæs ɪvpas·sive

Here are all the possible meanings and translations of the word passive.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. passive voice, passiveadjective

    the voice used to indicate that the grammatical subject of the verb is the recipient (not the source) of the action denoted by the verb

    "`The ball was thrown by the boy' uses the passive voice"; "`The ball was thrown' is an abbreviated passive"

  2. passive, inactiveadjective

    lacking in energy or will

    "Much benevolence of the passive order may be traced to a disinclination to inflict pain upon oneself"- George Meredith

  3. passive, peacefuladjective

    peacefully resistant in response to injustice

    "passive resistance"

  4. passiveadjective

    expressing that the subject of the sentence is the patient of the action denoted by the verb

    "academics seem to favor passive sentences"


  1. passivenoun

    The passive voice of verbs.

  2. passivenoun

    A form of a verb that is in the passive voice.

  3. passiveadjective

    Being subjected to an action without producing a reaction.

  4. passiveadjective

    Taking no action.

    He remained passive during the protest.

  5. passiveadjective

    Being in the passive voice.

  6. passiveadjective

    Being inactive and submissive in a relationship, especially in a sexual one.

  7. passiveadjective

    Not participating in management.

  8. Etymology: From passif, from passivus, from pati, past participle of passus; compare patient.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. PASSIVEadjective

    Etymology: passif, French; passivus, Latin.

    High above the ground
    Their march was, and the passive air upbore
    Their nimble tread. John Milton, Paradise Lost.

    The active informations of the intellect, filling the passive reception of the will, like form closing with matter, grew actuate into a third and distinct perfection of practice. South.

    As the mind is wholly passive in the reception of all its simple ideas, so it exerts several acts of its own, whereby, out of its simple ideas, the other is formed. John Locke.

    The vis inertiæ is a passive principle by which bodies persist in their motion or rest, receive motion in proportion to the force impressing it, and resist as much as they are resisted: by this principle alone, there never could have been any motion in the world. Isaac Newton, Opticks.

    Not those alone, who passive own her laws,
    But who, weak rebels, more advance her cause. Dunciad.

    A verb passive is that which signifies passion or the effect of action: as, doceor, I am taught. John Clarke, Lat. Gram.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Passiveadjective

    not active, but acted upon; suffering or receiving impressions or influences; as, they were passive spectators, not actors in the scene

  2. Passiveadjective

    receiving or enduring without either active sympathy or active resistance; without emotion or excitement; patient; not opposing; unresisting; as, passive obedience; passive submission

  3. Passiveadjective

    inactive; inert; not showing strong affinity; as, red phosphorus is comparatively passive

  4. Passiveadjective

    designating certain morbid conditions, as hemorrhage or dropsy, characterized by relaxation of the vessels and tissues, with deficient vitality and lack of reaction in the affected tissues


  1. Passive

    "Passive" is a song from the band A Perfect Circle's 2004 album eMOTIVe The song is a remake of the song "Vacant" by the now-defunct band Tapeworm. "Vacant" was notably first performed by A Perfect Circle without Trent Reznor's agreement.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Passive

    pas′iv, adj. suffering, unresisting: not acting: (gram.) expressing the suffering of an action by the subject of the verb.—adv. Pass′ively.—ns. Pass′iveness, Passiv′ity, inactivity: patience: tendency of a body to preserve a given state, either of motion or of rest. [Fr.,—L. passivuspati, suffer.]

Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms

  1. passive

    In surveillance, an adjective applied to actions or equipments which emit no energy capable of being detected.

Matched Categories

British National Corpus

  1. Adjectives Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'passive' in Adjectives Frequency: #812

How to pronounce passive?

How to say passive in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of passive in Chaldean Numerology is: 9

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of passive in Pythagorean Numerology is: 1

Examples of passive in a Sentence

  1. George Schultze:

    For investors that have had big gains and are mostly in passive ETF strategies, now may be a good time to put some cash on the side and realize some gains.

  2. Bernard Iddings Bell:

    To love is not a passive thing. To love is active voice. When I love I do something, I function, I give. I do not love in order that I may be loved back again, but for the creative joy of loving. And every time I do so love I am freed, at least a little, by the outgoing of love, from enslavement to that most intolerable of master, myself.

  3. Deodatta V. Shenai-Khatkhate:

    In the course of lifetime, you will meet many people who will misconstrue your gentle manners with weakness, and try to either take advantage of you, or intimidate you. You must be strong, as strong as the Diamond, while dealing with such predatory people. You must show them by your words and actions that your gentleness is not weakness that can be pushed around. You must make them realize that your compassion, kindness and humility mustn't be mistaken as passive or meek behavior. In my view, week, timid and spineless are those predatory people, who lack strength and courage; while you are the one with true inner strength and tremendous courage - because it is the Gentleness that is indeed founded on strength and prompted by Love. Stay gentle, kind, compassionate and yet extremely strong - because you are the Diamond, and you must maintain your character.

  4. George Orwell:

    For the ordinary man is passive. Within a narrow circle (home life, and perhaps the trade unions or local politics) he feels himself master of his fate, but against major events he is as helpless as against the elements. So far from endeavouring to influence the future, he simply lies down and lets things happen to him.

  5. David Hill:

    Passive viewing is still children's number one activity, whether it's a video game, or laptop or desktop computer, children are still sitting.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for passive

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

Get even more translations for passive »


Find a translation for the passive definition in other languages:

Select another language:

  • - Select -
  • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
  • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
  • Español (Spanish)
  • Esperanto (Esperanto)
  • 日本語 (Japanese)
  • Português (Portuguese)
  • Deutsch (German)
  • العربية (Arabic)
  • Français (French)
  • Русский (Russian)
  • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
  • 한국어 (Korean)
  • עברית (Hebrew)
  • Gaeilge (Irish)
  • Українська (Ukrainian)
  • اردو (Urdu)
  • Magyar (Hungarian)
  • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
  • Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Italiano (Italian)
  • தமிழ் (Tamil)
  • Türkçe (Turkish)
  • తెలుగు (Telugu)
  • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
  • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
  • Čeština (Czech)
  • Polski (Polish)
  • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Românește (Romanian)
  • Nederlands (Dutch)
  • Ελληνικά (Greek)
  • Latinum (Latin)
  • Svenska (Swedish)
  • Dansk (Danish)
  • Suomi (Finnish)
  • فارسی (Persian)
  • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
  • հայերեն (Armenian)
  • Norsk (Norwegian)
  • English (English)

Word of the Day

Would you like us to send you a FREE new word definition delivered to your inbox daily?

Please enter your email address:

Discuss these passive definitions with the community:



    Use the citation below to add this definition to your bibliography:


    "passive." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2022. Web. 12 Aug. 2022. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/passive>.

    Are we missing a good definition for passive? Don't keep it to yourself...

    Browse Definitions.net

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Chrome

    Get instant definitions for any word that hits you anywhere on the web!

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Firefox

    Get instant definitions for any word that hits you anywhere on the web!


    Are you a words master?

    the act of catching an object with the hands
    • A. impurity
    • B. dint
    • C. peccadillo
    • D. snap

    Nearby & related entries:

    Alternative searches for passive: