Definition of passive-aggressive in English:



  • (of behavior) characterized by indirect resistance to the demands of others and avoidance of direct confrontation.

    ‘the couple have a passive-aggressive exchange about what to order for dinner’
    • ‘there is something a bit passive-aggressive in not responding to someone's friendly email’
    • ‘This was manifested by disparaging remarks, passive-aggressive behaviour, malicious gossip about me, passing off of ideas generated by me as his own and frequent use of abusive language to myself and others around him.’
    • ‘The steward's self-pity in his soliloquy suggests lack of control over his situation or a passive-aggressive personality.’
    • ‘That's what a passive-aggressive personality will get you.’
    • ‘Therefore you tell everyone he has a passive-aggressive personality and Asperger's Syndrome.’
    • ‘Chapters 4 and 5 focus on the importance of underlying beliefs that influence passive, aggressive, and passive-aggressive styles.’
    • ‘Therefore, their anger may be misdirected in passive-aggressive maneuvers such as sulking or destructive gossip, she says.’
    • ‘The result is often judgmental criticism, condescending sarcasm or, even, passive-aggressive retaliation.’
    • ‘Sometimes these emotions are expressed in passive-aggressive ways, sexual withdrawal being one manifestation.’
    • ‘And passive-aggressive lateness or forgetfulness certainly falls under this category.’
    • ‘Humor can also be used to be cruel in a passive-aggressive way.’
    • ‘Does this make kiwis a passive-aggressive people, second only to the English in our avoidance of public conflict?’
    • ‘Esther, my shopaholic, passive-aggressive, overly grandiose mother, loves to recount this story at least four or five times a year and always with great relish on my day of birth!’
    • ‘My dad was usually a passive-aggressive person, only when my mother pushed certain buttons did he tend to get irritated and ill-tempered.’
    • ‘I neither stated nor implied that my experiences with accusations of passive-aggressive behavior were representative.’
    • ‘To me it seems fairly ordinary, but I also live in a place filled with many passive-aggressive people and haven't been dating forever.’
    • ‘So, it turns out that I'm a passive-aggressive confrontation-shy milquetoast with a classic working class deference to power.’
    • ‘For others, though, it's a dreaded nightmare of confrontation and recrimination, self-destructive despair and passive-aggressive treachery.’
    • ‘Emily finally learns Lorelai is dating Luke, and demands to get reacquainted with him over a passive-aggressive dinner.’
    • ‘People who write diaries are helpless solipsists who want nothing more than to denigrate others and elevate their own achievements, but who are too repressed and passive-aggressive to do so publicly.’
    • ‘So long as people work soul-sucking jobs and find themselves in passive-aggressive dysfunctional relationships, his songs will never go out of style.’



/ˌpasivəˈɡresiv/ /ˌpæsɪvəˈɡrɛsɪv/


1940s after passive aggression.