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passive (adj.)

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.

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Definitions of passive from WordNet
1
passive (adj.)
lacking in energy or will; "Much benevolence of the passive order may be traced to a disinclination to inflict pain upon oneself"- George Meredith;
Synonyms: inactive
passive (adj.)
peacefully resistant in response to injustice;
passive resistance
Synonyms: peaceful
passive (adj.)
expressing that the subject of the sentence is the patient of the action denoted by the verb;
academics seem to favor passive sentences
2
passive (n.)
the voice used to indicate that the grammatical subject of the verb is the recipient (not the source) of the action denoted by the verb;
`The ball was thrown by the boy' uses the passive voice
`The ball was thrown' is an abbreviated passive
Synonyms: passive voice
From wordnet.princeton.edu