[ pas-iv ]
/ ˈpæs ɪv /


noun Grammar.

the passive voice.
a passive form or construction.

Origin of passive

1350–1400; Middle English < Latin passīvus literally, submissive, equivalent to pass(us) (past participle of patī to experience, undergo, submit) + -īvus -ive
Related forms
Can be confusedaggressive passive Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for passively

British Dictionary definitions for passively


/ (ˈpæsɪv) /



  1. the passive voice
  2. a passive verb
Derived Formspassively, adverbpassivity or passiveness, noun

Word Origin for passive

C14: from Latin passīvus susceptible of suffering, from patī to undergo
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 passively



late 14c., in grammatical sense (opposed to active), Old French passif "suffering, undergoing hardship" (14c.) and directly from Latin passivus "capable of feeling or suffering," from pass-, past participle stem of pati "to suffer" (see passion). Meaning "not active" is first recorded late 15c.; sense of "enduring suffering without resistance" is from 1620s. Related: Passively. Passive resistance first attested 1819 in Scott's "Ivanhoe," used throughout 19c.; re-coined by Gandhi c.1906 in South Africa. Passive-aggressive with reference to behavior is attested by 1971.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for passively


[ păsĭv ]


Accepting or submitting without resistance or objection.
Of or being an inactive or submissive role in a relationship, especially a sexual relationship.
Chemically unreactive except under special or extreme conditions; inert.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.