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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
passive voice
▪ But, serious accidents can happen along the way when you use the passive voice.
▪ His prose is filled with active verbs and metaphors, instead of the passive voice and jargon frequently churned out by academics.
▪ In the passive voice the subject does not do the action: it suffers the action.
▪ Like most great rules, the rule against the passive voice has exceptions.
▪ This hypothesis requires further analysis of the passive voice before it can be considered confirmed however.
The Collaborative International Dictionary
Passive voice

Passive \Pas"sive\, a. [L. passivus: cf. F. passif. See Passion.]

  1. Not active, but acted upon; suffering or receiving impressions or influences; as, they were passive spectators, not actors in the scene.

    The passive air Upbore their nimble tread.

    The mind is wholly passive in the reception of all its simple ideas.

  2. Receiving or enduring without either active sympathy or active resistance; without emotion or excitement; patient; not opposing; unresisting; as, passive obedience; passive submission.

    The best virtue, passive fortitude.

  3. (Chem.) Inactive; inert; not showing strong affinity; as, red phosphorus is comparatively passive.

  4. (Med.) Designating certain morbid conditions, as hemorrhage or dropsy, characterized by relaxation of the vessels and tissues, with deficient vitality and lack of reaction in the affected tissues.

    Passive congestion (Med.), congestion due to obstruction to the return of the blood from the affected part.

    Passive iron (Chem.), iron which has been subjected to the action of heat, of strong nitric acid, chlorine, etc. It is then not easily acted upon by acids.

    Passive movement (Med.), a movement of a part, in order to exercise it, made without the assistance of the muscles which ordinarily move the part.

    Passive obedience (as used by writers on government), obedience or submission of the subject or citizen as a duty in all cases to the existing government.

    Passive prayer, among mystic divines, a suspension of the activity of the soul or intellectual faculties, the soul remaining quiet, and yielding only to the impulses of grace.

    Passive verb, or Passive voice (Gram.), a verb, or form of a verb, which expresses the effect of the action of some agent; as, in Latin, doceor, I am taught; in English, she is loved; the picture is admired by all; he is assailed by slander.

    Syn: Inactive; inert; quiescent; unresisting; unopposing; suffering; enduring; submissive; patient.

Passive voice

Voice \Voice\, n. [OE. vois, voys, OF. vois, voiz, F. voix, L. vox, vocis, akin to Gr. ? a word, ? a voice, Skr. vac to say, to speak, G. erw["a]hnen to mention. Cf. Advocate, Advowson, Avouch, Convoke, Epic, Vocal, Vouch, Vowel.]

  1. Sound uttered by the mouth, especially that uttered by human beings in speech or song; sound thus uttered considered as possessing some special quality or character; as, the human voice; a pleasant voice; a low voice.

    He with a manly voice saith his message.

    Her voice was ever soft, Gentle, and low; an excellent thing in woman.

    Thy voice is music.

    Join thy voice unto the angel choir.

  2. (Phon.) Sound of the kind or quality heard in speech or song in the consonants b, v, d, etc., and in the vowels; sonant, or intonated, utterance; tone; -- distinguished from mere breath sound as heard in f, s, sh, etc., and also whisper.

    Note: Voice, in this sense, is produced by vibration of the so-called vocal cords in the larynx (see Illust. of Larynx) which act upon the air, not in the manner of the strings of a stringed instrument, but as a pair of membranous tongues, or reeds, which, being continually forced apart by the outgoing current of breath, and continually brought together again by their own elasticity and muscular tension, break the breath current into a series of puffs, or pulses, sufficiently rapid to cause the sensation of tone. The power, or loudness, of such a tone depends on the force of the separate pulses, and this is determined by the pressure of the expired air, together with the resistance on the part of the vocal cords which is continually overcome. Its pitch depends on the number of a["e]rial pulses within a given time, that is, on the rapidity of their succession. See Guide to Pronunciation, [sect][sect] 5, 146, 155.

  3. The tone or sound emitted by anything.

    After the fire a still small voice.
    --1 Kings xix. 12.

    Canst thou thunder with a voice like him?
    --Job xl. 9.

    The floods have lifted up their voice.
    --Ps. xciii. 3.

    O Marcus, I am warm'd; my heart Leaps at the trumpet's voice.

  4. The faculty or power of utterance; as, to cultivate the voice.

  5. Language; words; speech; expression; signification of feeling or opinion.

    I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you.
    --Gal. iv. 20.

    My voice is in my sword.

    Let us call on God in the voice of his church.
    --Bp. Fell.

  6. Opinion or choice expressed; judgment; a vote.

    Sic. How now, my masters! have you chose this man? 1 Cit. He has our voices, sir.

    Some laws ordain, and some attend the choice Of holy senates, and elect by voice.

  7. Command; precept; -- now chiefly used in scriptural language.

    So shall ye perish; because ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the Lord your God.
    --Deut. viii. 20.

  8. One who speaks; a speaker. ``A potent voice of Parliament.''

  9. (Gram.) A particular mode of inflecting or conjugating verbs, or a particular form of a verb, by means of which is indicated the relation of the subject of the verb to the action which the verb expresses.

    Active voice (Gram.), that form of the verb by which its subject is represented as the agent or doer of the action expressed by it.

    Chest voice (Phon.), a kind of voice of a medium or low pitch and of a sonorous quality ascribed to resonance in the chest, or thorax; voice of the thick register. It is produced by vibration of the vocal cords through their entire width and thickness, and with convex surfaces presented to each other.

    Head voice (Phon.), a kind of voice of high pitch and of a thin quality ascribed to resonance in the head; voice of the thin register; falsetto. In producing it, the vibration of the cords is limited to their thin edges in the upper part, which are then presented to each other.

    Middle voice (Gram.), that form of the verb by which its subject is represented as both the agent, or doer, and the object of the action, that is, as performing some act to or upon himself, or for his own advantage.

    Passive voice. (Gram.) See under Passive, a.

    Voice glide (Pron.), the brief and obscure neutral vowel sound that sometimes occurs between two consonants in an unaccented syllable (represented by the apostrophe), as in able (a"b'l). See Glide, n., 2.

    Voice stop. See Voiced stop, under Voiced, a.

    With one voice, unanimously. ``All with one voice . . . cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.''
    --Acts xix. 34.

passive voice

n. 1 (context grammar English) The form of a transitive verb in which its subject receives the action. 2 (context proscribed English) Any construction that obscures the agent of an action, or the agency of said agent.

passive voice

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" [syn: passive] [ant: active voice]

Passive voice

Passive voice is a grammatical voice common in many languages. In a clause with passive voice, the grammatical subject expresses the theme or patient of the main verb – that is, the person or thing that undergoes the action or has its state changed. This contrasts with active voice, in which the subject has the agent role. For example, in the passive sentence "The tree was pulled down", the subject (the tree) denotes the patient rather than the agent of the action. In contrast, the sentences "Someone pulled down the tree" and "The tree is down" are active sentences.

Typically, in passive clauses, what is usually expressed by the object (or sometimes another argument) of the verb is now expressed by the subject, while what is usually expressed by the subject is either deleted, or is indicated by some adjunct of the clause. Thus, turning an active verb into a passive verb is a valence-decreasing process ("detransitivizing process"), because it turns transitive verbs into intransitive verbs. This is not always the case; for example in Japanese a passive-voice construction does not necessarily decrease valence.

Many languages have both an active and a passive voice; this allows for greater flexibility in sentence construction, as either the semantic agent or patient may take the syntactic role of subject. The use of passive voice allows speakers to organize stretches of discourse by placing figures other than the agent in subject position. This may be done to foreground the patient, recipient, or other thematic role; it may also be useful when the semantic patient is the topic of on-going discussion. The passive voice may also be used to avoid specifying the agent of an action.

Usage examples of "passive voice".

The passive voice is one of these devices which, by removing the active participating experimenter, gives the text apparent authority and credibility.

Two pages of the passive voice - just about any business document ever written, in other words, not to mention reams of bad fiction - make me want to scream.

We will not spend a chapter, or even a few pages, discussing the importance of using strong verbs or the active versus the passive voice or the proper use of adjectives and adverbs.

The syntax was often bewildering, especially in the passive voice.