• Active


    • IPA: /ˈæktɪv/


    From Middle English actif, from Old French actif, from Latin activus, from agere ("to do, to act"); see act.

    Full definition of active



    1. Having the power or quality of acting; causing change; communicating action or motion; acting; — opposed to passive, that receives.
      certain active principles;  the active powers of the mind
    2. Quick in physical movement; of an agile and vigorous body; nimble.
      an active child or animal
    3. In action; actually proceeding; working; in force; — opposed to quiescent, dormant, or extinct.
      active laws;  active hostilities
      1. (specifically, of a volcano) Being an active volcano.
    4. Given to action; constantly engaged in action; energetic; diligent; busy; — opposed to dull, sluggish, indolent, or inert.
      an active man of business;  active mind;  active zeal
      • 1910, Emerson Hough, The Purchase Price Chapter 1, This new-comer was a man who in any company would have seemed striking....He was smooth-faced, and his fresh skin and well-developed figure bespoke the man in good physical condition through active exercise, yet well content with the world's apportionment.
    5. Requiring or implying action or exertion; — opposed to sedentary or to tranquil.
      active employment or service  active scenes
    6. Given to action rather than contemplation; practical; operative; — opposed to speculative or theoretical.
      an active rather than a speculative statesman
    7. Brisk; lively.
      an active demand for corn
    8. Implying or producing rapid action.
      an active disease;  an active remedy
    9. (grammar) About verbs.
      1. Applied to a form of the verb; — opposed to passive. See active voice.
      2. Applied to verbs which assert that the subject acts upon or affects something else; transitive.
      3. Applied to all verbs that express action as distinct from mere existence or state.
    10. (gay sexual slang) of a homosexual man enjoying a role in anal sex in which he penetrates, rather than being penetrated by his partner.

    Derived terms

    Related terms



    (plural actives)
    1. A person or thing that is acting or capable of acting.
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