3rd Form: The predicate consists of (1) a verb and (2) an object, which denotes the person or thing which the action of the verb ‘passes over.’
–– C. T. Onions
What does ‘passes over’ mean?
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Pass here is the second sense in OALD:
2 [INTRANSITIVE] + adverb/preposition to go or move in the direction mentioned
The procession passed slowly along the street.
A plane passed low overhead.
Onions puts 'passes over' in quotes for two reasons:
because the notion of the “action” of the verb “passing over” its object is merely a metaphor for a grammatical relationship which is very difficult to put into words. How on earth do you describe transitivity in a manner which captures the very different relationships between the verb and its objects in these sentences?
StoneyB loves gooey butter cake.
Ryan whacked his little sister.
Listenever studies English grammar.
Onions adopts the language of his classical predecessors while making an effort to acknowledge that the language is inadequate.
I found a similar (though not identical) definition in Google Book.
Under Types of verbs, it says
Types of verbs: Transitive and intransitive verbs. Transitive verb is a verb which denotes an action which passes over from the subject to an object. The intransitive verb is a verb which denotes an action which does not pass over to an object or which expresses a state or being. For example, he ran a long distance.
The use of this passes over is similar to the definition "to leave out" in the Free Online Dictionary.
pass over: To leave out; disregard.
Having said that, it seems more like we could interpret "passes over" here (in both OP's quote and the above quote) simply as pass (verb) and over (preposition), i.e. to pass an action over from the subject to an object.