Passivity vs. passiveness: is there a difference?

In order to understand when to use passivity and when passiveness, you first need to know the meaning of “passive”.

Valentina Dordevic
Valentina Dordevic

“Passiveness” and “passivity” are both nouns derived from the Latin word “passive”. Still, a lot of English language learners are confused about whether they should use these words interchangeably.

Do they have the same meaning or should we use them on different occasions?

Passiveness or passivity — what to use

In order to understand when to use passivity and when passiveness, you first need to know the meaning of “passive”.

This word is an adjective that describes a lethargic person, someone that accepts or allows what other people do or what happens, without contributing or resisting.

Passiveness: meaning and examples

This noun describes the condition of being passive or the trait of remaining inactive. It is formed by adding the English suffix –ness to the adjective “passive”. Therefore, it’s perfectly acceptable to say passiveness.


One of her key traits is her seeming passiveness and her tendency to stay silent in important confrontations.

Passivity: definition and examples

What does passivity mean? According to the definition, it is acceptance of a situation without responding or resisting.

It’s also a noun, but this time created by adding the suffix –ity to the adjective “passive”, a suffix that’s usually added to words of Latin origin such as “passive”.

In general, passivity is more commonly used than passiveness.


Accepting your apparent passivity won’t help our relationship.

Passiveness and passivity — are they the same?

As you can notice from the definitions of these two words, they have the same meaning. They both indicate that someone is not participating or reacting to something happening around them.

In other words, you can use them interchangeably without worrying if you have used the right term. So, even though passivity is more commonly used than passiveness, feel free to use whichever you prefer.

EnglishWhich is correctIdioms & expressions

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