Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Receiving or subjected to an action without responding or initiating an action in return.
  • adjective Accepting or submitting without objection or resistance; submissive.
  • adjective Existing, conducted, or experienced without active or concerted effort.
  • adjective Of, relating to, or being certain bonds or shares that do not bear financial interest.
  • adjective Of, relating to, or being a solar heating or cooling system that uses no external mechanical power.
  • adjective Grammar Of, relating to, or being a verb form or voice used to indicate that the grammatical subject is the object of the action or the effect of the verb. For example, in the sentence They were impressed by his manner, were impressed is in the passive voice.
  • adjective Chemistry Unreactive except under special or extreme conditions; inert.
  • adjective Electronics Exhibiting no gain or contributing no energy.
  • adjective Psychology Relating to or being an inactive or submissive role in a relationship, especially a sexual relationship.
  • noun The passive voice.
  • noun A verb or construction in the passive voice.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Suffering; not acting; inactive; receiving or capable of receiving impressions from external objects.
  • Receptive; unresisting; not opposing; receiving or suffering without resistance: as, passive obedience; passive submission to the laws.
  • In grammar, expressive of the suffering or enduring of some action, or the being affected by some action: applied to a derivative mode of conjugation, by which that which is the object of the other or “active” form is made the subject of the enduring of the verbal action: thus, Lydia a me amatur, ‘Lydia is loved by me,’ is corresponding passive to ego Lydiam amo, ‘I love Lydia.’

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Not active, but acted upon; suffering or receiving impressions or influences.
  • adjective Receiving or enduring without either active sympathy or active resistance; without emotion or excitement; patient; not opposing; unresisting
  • adjective (Chem.) Inactive; inert; unreactive; not showing strong affinity.
  • adjective (Med.) 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.
  • adjective (Med.) congestion due to obstruction to the return of the blood from the affected part.
  • adjective (Chem.) iron which has been subjected to the action of heat, of strong nitric acid, chlorine, etc. It is then not easily acted upon by acids.
  • adjective (Med.) a movement of a part, in order to exercise it, made without the assistance of the muscles which ordinarily move the part.
  • adjective (as used by writers on government), obedience or submission of the subject or citizen as a duty in all cases to the existing government.
  • adjective among mystic divines, a suspension of the activity of the soul or intellectual faculties, the soul remaining quiet, and yielding only to the impulses of grace.
  • adjective (Gram.) a verb, or form of a verb, which expresses the effect of the action of some agent; as, in Latin, doceor, I am taught; in English, she is loved; the picture is admired by all; he is assailed by slander.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Being subjected to an action without producing a reaction.
  • adjective Taking no action.
  • adjective grammar Being in the passive voice.
  • adjective psychology Being inactive and submissive in a relationship, especially in a sexual one.
  • adjective finance Not participating in management.
  • noun uncountable, grammar The passive voice of verbs.
  • noun countable, grammar A form of a verb that is in the passive voice.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective lacking in energy or will
  • noun 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
  • adjective expressing that the subject of the sentence is the patient of the action denoted by the verb
  • adjective peacefully resistant in response to injustice

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old French passif, from Latin passīvus, subject to emotion, the passive, from passus, past participle of patī, to suffer; see pē(i)- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From French passif, from Latin passivus ("serving to express the suffering of an action; in late Latin literally capable of suffering or feeling"), from pati ("to suffer"), past participle of passus; compare patient.

Examples

  • The Conjugation of an active verb, is styled the _active voice_; and that of a passive verb, the _passive voice_.

    English Grammar in Familiar Lectures

  • When the perfect participle of an _intransitive_ verb is joined to the neuter verb _to be_, the combination is not a passive verb, but a _neuter_ verb in a _passive form_; as, "He _is gone_;

    English Grammar in Familiar Lectures

  • Flacius declared with respect to the issue formulated by Strigel: "I explain my entire view as follows: Man is purely passive (_homo se habet pure passive_).

    Historical Introductions to the Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church

  • Because they approach the matter in the same way as Gandhi has explained the people approach it - may approach it in England under the term passive resistance?

    EXAMINATION BY MR. KATHRADA

  • However, they do act on information passed to them even if it could have been obtained by torture in what they describe as "passive" involvement.

    Musharraf hints that Britain tacitly backed torture

  • But that's because a passive is always a stylistic train wreck when the subject refers to something newer and less established in the discourse than the agent (the noun phrase that follows "by").

    Hunting Down the False Passive

  • But that's because a passive is always a stylistic train wreck when the subject refers to something newer and less established in the discourse than the agent (the noun phrase that follows "by").

    Archive 2009-04-01

  • With the rudiments of a structure in place, Kallman and other executives began to draw a distinction in artist negotiations between what they termed passive and active investments.

    Fortune’s Fool

  • With the rudiments of a structure in place, Kallman and other executives began to draw a distinction in artist negotiations between what they termed passive and active investments.

    Fortune’s Fool

  • With the rudiments of a structure in place, Kallman and other executives began to draw a distinction in artist negotiations between what they termed passive and active investments.

    Fortune’s Fool

Comments

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  • The passive voice is to be avoided.

    January 25, 2007