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.
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