1630s, "action of bringing two parties face to face," for examination and discovery of the truth, from Medieval Latin confrontationem (nominative confrontatio), noun of action from past-participle stem of confrontari, from assimilated form of Latin com "with, together" (see con-) + frontem (nominative frons) "forehead" (see front (n.)). International political sense is attested from 1963 and traces to the "Cuban missile crisis" of the previous year.
c. 1300, "meeting of adversaries, confrontation," from Old French encontre "meeting; fight; opportunity" (12c.), noun use of preposition/adverb encontre "against, counter to" from Late Latin incontra "in front of," from Latin in- "in" (from PIE root *en "in") + contra "against" (see contra (prep., adv.)). Modern use of the word in psychology is from 1967, from the work of U.S. psychologist Carl Rogers. Encounter group attested from 1967.
late 14c., passif, of matter, "capable of being acted upon;" of persons, "receptive;" also in the grammatical sense "expressive of being affected by some action" (opposed to active), from 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).
The meaning "not active or acting" is recorded from late 15c.; the sense of "unresisting, not opposing, enduring suffering without resistance" is from 1620s. Related: Passively. As a noun, late 14c. as "a capacity in matter for being acted upon;" also in grammar, "a passive verb."
Passive resistance is attested in 1819 in Scott's "Ivanhoe" and was used throughout 19c.; it was re-coined by Gandhi c. 1906 in South Africa. Passive-aggressive with reference to behavior or personality characterized by indirect resistance but avoidance of direct confrontation is attested by 1971.