student asking question

Could you explain this sentence? I don't really understand the meaning.

teacher

Native speaker’s answer

Rebecca

The speaker means that the feeling of "passive-aggressiveness" is so strong that it has almost taken physical shape (can be seen), allowing for it to be cut with a knife. This is very American-style humor and is similar to the commonly used expression, "to cut the tension with a knife," which is used when tension caused by people or a situation is so heavy that it cannot be ignored. To be "passive-aggressive" means to express one's negative feelings in passive and subtle ways, rather than addressing it directly. For example, a person is being passive-aggressive when they slam doors to show that they are angry, instead of expressing it in words. Ex: We had a fight and he's been acting passive-aggressively all day. Ex: I used to have a passive-aggressive personality, but recently I've been trying to be more communicative.

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