active (adj.)

mid-14c., actif, active, "given to worldly activity" (opposed to contemplative or monastic), from Old French actif (12c.) and directly from Latin activus, from actus "a doing" (from PIE root *ag- "to drive, draw out or forth, move").

As "capable of acting" (opposed to passive), from late 14c. Meaning "energetic, lively" is from 1590s; that of "working, effective, in operation" (opposed to inactive) is from 1640s. The grammatical active voice is recorded from 1765; grammatical use of active, signifying performance and not endurance of an action, dates from mid-15c. (opposed to passive or reflexive).

updated on September 14, 2022

Definitions of active from WordNet
active (adj.)
engaged in or ready for military or naval operations;
on active duty
Synonyms: combat-ready / fighting
active (adj.)
in operation;
an active tradition
Synonyms: alive
active (adj.)
tending to become more severe or wider in scope;
active tuberculosis
active (adj.)
disposed to take action or effectuate change;
an active antagonism
a director who takes an active interest in corporate operations
he was active in drawing attention to their grievances
active (adj.)
taking part in an activity;
an active member of the club
he was politically active
Synonyms: participating
active (adj.)
characterized by energetic activity;
an active toddler
active as a gazelle
an active man is a man of action
active (adj.)
exerting influence or producing a change or effect;
an active ingredient
active (adj.)
full of activity or engaged in continuous activity;
an active bond market
an active account
an active seaport
active (adj.)
(of the sun) characterized by an increased occurrence of sunspots and flares and radio emissions;
active (adj.)
expressing that the subject of the sentence has the semantic function of actor: "Hemingway favors active constructions";
active (adj.)
(used of verbs (e.g. `to run') and participial adjectives (e.g. `running' in `running water')) expressing action rather than a state of being;
Synonyms: dynamic
active (adj.)
(of e.g. volcanos) capable of erupting;
active (adj.)
(of e.g. volcanos) erupting or liable to erupt;
active volcanos
active (adj.)
engaged in full-time work;
active duty
though past retirement age he is still active in his profession
active (n.)
chemical agent capable of activity;
Synonyms: active agent
active (n.)
the voice used to indicate that the grammatical subject of the verb is performing the action or causing the happening denoted by the verb;
`The boy threw the ball' uses the active voice
Synonyms: active voice
active (n.)
a person who is a participating member of an organization;
the club issues a list of members, both the actives and the retirees
Etymologies are not definitions. From, not affiliated with etymonline.