The description of passive components and systems published by the IAEA in its TECDOC-626 was developed in the course of a Technical Committee Meeting held in Sweden and two subsequent Consultants Meetings held in Vienna. This description is reviewed and discussed in terms of the philosophies behind it, alternatives considered, problems encountered, and conclusions drawn. Also discussed is an Appendix to the TECDOC, which illustrates the spectrum of possibilities from passive to active by describing four typical categories of passivity. Subsequent thoughts on passive safety include a discussion of its advantages and disadvantages, concluding with a summary of current views and problems with it. (author). 8 refs.