See more synonyms for active on
  1. engaged in action; characterized by energetic work, participation, etc.; busy: an active life.
  2. being in a state of existence, progress, or motion: active hostilities.
  3. involving physical effort and action: active sports.
  4. having the power of quick motion; nimble: active as a gazelle.
  5. characterized by action, motion, volume, use, participation, etc.: an active market in wheat; an active list of subscribers.
  6. causing activity or change; capable of exerting influence (opposed to passive): active treason.
  7. effective (opposed to inert): active ingredients.
  8. Grammar. noting or pertaining to a voice of verbal inflection in which typically the subject of the sentence is represented as performing the action expressed by the verb (opposed to passive): Writes in He writes a letter every day is an active verb form.
  9. requiring or giving rise to action; practical: an active course.
  10. (of a volcano) in eruption.
  11. Accounting. profitable; busy: active accounts.
  12. requiring personal effort or attention; not automatic: an active alarm system.
  13. interest-bearing: active paper.
  14. Medicine/Medical. acting quickly; producing immediate effects: active remedies.
  15. Sociology. (of a crowd) engaging in purposeful activity, often of a militant nature.Compare expressive(def 4).
  16. Aerospace. able to transmit signals: an active communications satellite.
  17. Electronics. (of a device or system) acting as a source of electrical energy, as a generator, or capable of amplifying or converting voltages or currents, as a transistor or diode.
  18. (of a solar heating system) accumulating and distributing solar heat by mechanical means.
  19. Military. serving on active duty.
  1. Grammar.
    1. the active voice.
    2. a form or construction in the active voice.
  2. an active person, member, subscriber, etc.: The circular was mailed only to the actives on our list.
  3. Informal. something showing considerable action or activity: On the stock market there was heavy trading in the actives.

Origin of active

1300–50; < Latin āctīvus (see act, -ive); replacing Middle English actif < Middle French < Latin
Related formsac·tive·ly, adverbac·tive·ness, nounnon·ac·tive, adjective, nounpre·ac·tive, adjectivepre·ac·tive·ly, adverbpre·ac·tive·ness, nounqua·si-ac·tive, adjectivequa·si-ac·tive·ly, adverbsem·i·ac·tive, adjectivesem·i·ac·tive·ly, adverbsem·i·ac·tive·ness, nounsu·per·ac·tive, adjectivesu·per·ac·tive·ly, adverbsu·per·ac·tive·ness, noun

Synonyms for active

See more synonyms for on

Synonym study

3. Active, energetic, strenuous, vigorous imply a liveliness and briskness in accomplishing something. Active suggests quickness and diligence as opposed to laziness or dilatory methods: an active and useful person. Energetic suggests forceful and intense, sometimes nervous, activity: conducting an energetic campaign. Strenuous implies arduous and zealous activity with a sense of urgency: a strenuous effort. Vigorous suggests strong, effective activity: using vigorous measures to accomplish an end.

Antonyms for active

1. lazy. 5. sluggish. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for active

Contemporary Examples of active

Historical Examples of active

  • Now he was active, acutely aware of himself and all his wants.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • His countrymen were the first to press steam into the active service of mankind.

  • For most of us the fear of death is a subconscious rather than an active fear.

  • I am sorry for you all, and for you especially that you should have had to take an active part in the business.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • Active opposition I could fight; but the tactics are now to ignore me.

British Dictionary definitions for active


  1. in a state of action; moving, working, or doing something
  2. busy or involvedan active life
  3. physically energetic
  4. exerting influence; effectivean active ingredient
  5. grammar
    1. denoting a voice of verbs used to indicate that the subject of a sentence is performing the action or causing the event or process described by the verb, as kicked in The boy kicked the footballCompare passive (def. 5)
    2. another word for nonstative
  6. being fully engaged in military service (esp in the phrase on active service)
  7. (of a volcano) erupting periodically; not extinctCompare dormant (def. 3), extinct (def. 3)
  8. astronomy (of the sun) exhibiting a large number of sunspots, solar flares, etc, and a marked variation in intensity and frequency of radio emissionCompare quiet (def. 8)
  9. commerce
    1. producing or being used to produce profit, esp in the form of interestactive balances
    2. of or denoting stocks or shares that have been actively bought and sold as recorded in the Official List of the London Stock Exchange
  10. electronics
    1. containing a source of poweran active network
    2. capable of amplifying a signal or controlling some functionan active component; an active communication satellite
  1. grammar
    1. the active voice
    2. an active verb
  2. mainly US a member of an organization who participates in its activities
Derived Formsactively, adverbactiveness, noun

Word Origin for active

C14: from Latin āctīvus. See act, -ive
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for active

mid-14c., "given to worldly activity" (opposed to contemplative or monastic), from Old French actif (12c.) or directly from Latin activus, from actus (see act (n.)). As "capable of acting" (opposed to passive), from late 14c. Meaning "energetic, lively" is from 1590s; that of "working, effective, in operation" is from 1640s. Active voice is recorded from 1765 (grammatical use of active dates from mid-15c.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper