/ (ˌʌnrɪˈspɒnsɪv) /
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not reacting or responding to an action, question, suggestion, etc
Were you ready for a quiz on this topic? Well, here it is! See how well you can differentiate between the uses of "was" vs. "were" in this quiz.
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“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.
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


What does unresponsive mean?

Unresponsive means not reacting or responding to communication or something that usually calls for a reaction or a reply.

If someone you work with is not returning your emails, you might describe them as unresponsive. You could also use the word to describe a friend who never (or only rarely) returns your texts. A suspect who keeps quiet while being questioned by the police could also be described as unresponsive.

Unresponsive is also sometimes used in a medical context to describe a patient who is unconscious or otherwise unable to respond, such as due to being severely intoxicated.

The opposite of both senses of unresponsive is responsive, which can be used to describe people who are good at getting back to you or to a patient who is alert and able to communicate.

Example: I’ve been trying to get our other group member to contribute, but so far he’s been completely unresponsive and hasn’t returned any of my calls or texts.

Where does unresponsive come from?

The first records of the word responsive come from around 1400. Unresponsive is first recorded later, around the 1600s, and is simply formed by adding the prefix un-, meaning “not.”

When it’s used to describe people who don’t return your calls, emails, or texts, unresponsive might not necessarily mean that they never get back to you—though sometimes it does. Someone who’s unresponsive in this way is usually slow to respond, or only responds sometimes, or responds without actually answering your question.

In a medical context, saying that a patient is unresponsive often indicates that their condition is serious or that they’ve been injured in some way that prevents them from communicating.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms of unresponsive?

  • unresponsively (adverb)
  • unresponsiveness (noun)

What are some words that share a root or word element with unresponsive


What are some words that often get used in discussing unresponsive?

How is unresponsive used in real life?

When it’s used to describe a person who doesn’t get back to you, unresponsive implies a criticism of such a person. When it’s used in a medical context, it often implies a serious condition.



Try using unresponsive!

Which of the following words would most likely be used to describe a patient who’s unresponsive?

A. alert
B. unconscious
C. aware
D. communicating

How to use unresponsive in a sentence