[ ak-tiv ]
See synonyms for: activeactivelyactiveness 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.

  1. involving physical effort and action: active sports.

  2. having the power of quick motion; nimble: active as a gazelle.

  3. characterized by action, motion, volume, use, participation, etc.: an active market in wheat; an active list of subscribers.

  4. causing activity or change; capable of exerting influence (opposed to passive): active treason.

  5. effective (opposed to inert): active ingredients.

  6. 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.

  7. requiring or giving rise to action; practical: an active course.

  8. Geology. (of a volcano) having erupted within the last 10,000 years and likely to do so again or currently in a state of eruption.: Compare dormant, extinct.

  9. Accounting. profitable; busy: active accounts.

  10. requiring personal effort or attention; not automatic: an active alarm system.

  11. interest-bearing: active paper.

  12. Medicine/Medical. acting quickly; producing immediate effects: active remedies.

  13. Sociology. (of a crowd) engaging in purposeful activity, often of a militant nature.: Compare expressive (def. 4).

  14. Aerospace. able to transmit signals: an active communications satellite.

  15. 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.

  16. (of a solar heating system) accumulating and distributing solar heat by mechanical means.

  17. Military. serving on active duty.

  1. Grammar.

    • the active voice.

    • 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.

  1. Informal. something showing considerable action or activity: On the stock market there was heavy trading in the actives.

Origin of active

First recorded in 1300–50; from Latin āctīvus; replacing Middle English actif, from Middle French, from Latin; see act, -ive

synonym study For active

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.

Other words for active

Opposites for active

Other words from active

  • ac·tive·ly, adverb
  • ac·tive·ness, noun
  • non·ac·tive, adjective, noun
  • pre·ac·tive, adjective
  • pre·ac·tive·ness, noun
  • qua·si-ac·tive, adjective
  • sem·i·ac·tive, adjective
  • sem·i·ac·tive·ness, noun
  • su·per·ac·tive, adjective
  • su·per·ac·tive·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use active in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for active


/ (ˈæktɪv) /

  1. in a state of action; moving, working, or doing something

  2. busy or involved: an active life

  1. physically energetic

  2. exerting influence; effective: an active ingredient

  3. grammar

    • 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 football: Compare passive (def. 5)

    • another word for nonstative

  4. being fully engaged in military service (esp in the phrase on active service)

  5. (of a volcano) erupting periodically; not extinct: Compare dormant (def. 3), extinct (def. 3)

  6. astronomy (of the sun) exhibiting a large number of sunspots, solar flares, etc, and a marked variation in intensity and frequency of radio emission: Compare quiet (def. 8)

  7. commerce

    • producing or being used to produce profit, esp in the form of interest: active balances

    • of or denoting stocks or shares that have been actively bought and sold as recorded in the Official List of the London Stock Exchange

  8. electronics

    • containing a source of power: an active network

    • capable of amplifying a signal or controlling some function: an active component; an active communication satellite

  1. grammar

    • the active voice

    • an active verb

  2. mainly US a member of an organization who participates in its activities

Origin of active

C14: from Latin āctīvus. See act, -ive

Derived forms of active

  • actively, adverb
  • activeness, noun

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