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ACT'IVE, adjective [Latin activus.]

1. That has the power or quality of acting; that contains the principle of action, independent of any visible external force; as, attraction is an active power: or it may be defined, that communicates action or motion, opposed to passive, that receives action; as, the active powers of the mind.

2. Having the power of quick motion, or disposition to move with speed; nimble; lively; brisk; agile; as an active animal.


3. Busy; constantly engaged in action; pursuing business with vigor and assiduity; opposed to dull, slow, or indolent; as an active officer. It is also opposed to sedentary, as an active life.

4. Requiring action or exertion; practical; operative; producing real effects; opposed to speculative; as, the active duties of life.

5. In grammar, active verbs are those which not only signify action, but have a noun or name following them, denoting the object of the action or impression; called also transitive, as they imply the passing of the action expressed by the verb to the object; as a professor instructs his pupils.

6. active capital, or wealth, is money, or property that may readily be converted into money, and used in commerce or other employment for profit.

7. active commerce, the commerce in which a nation carries its own productions and foreign commodities in its own ships, or which is prosecuted by its own citizens; as contradistinguished from passive commerce, in which the productions of one country are transported by the people of another country.

The commerce of Great Britain and of the United States is active; that of China is passive.

It may be the interest of foreign nations to deprive us, as far as possible, of an active commerce in our own bottoms.