enter is the most general of these and may imply either going in or forcing a way in.
entered the city in triumph
penetrate carries a strong implication of an impelling force or compelling power that achieves entrance.
the enemy penetrated the fortress
pierce means an entering or cutting through with a sharp pointed instrument.
pierced the boil with a lancet
probe implies penetration to investigate or explore something hidden from sight or knowledge.
probed the depths of the sea
Examples of penetrate in a Sentence
These bullets can penetrate armor.
radiation penetrating the Earth's atmosphere
The bullet failed to penetrate.
The heat penetrated through the wall.
The roots of these plants have been known to penetrate to a depth of more than 15 feet.
My car's headlights couldn't penetrate the dense fog. See More
Recent Examples on the WebThere’s no cellphone connection, the TV signal and internet are dead, and several loud, sonic boom-like noises from the distance are followed by painfully penetrating blasts of sound.—Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post, 20 Nov. 2023 To be honest, many of the ruses perpetrated by George Santos, who survived an expulsion vote on Wednesday, were a lot harder to penetrate than Hawley’s latest caper, if only anyone would bother to try.—Jason Linkins, The New Republic, 4 Nov. 2023 The male allegedly penetrated the girl with his fingers.—Andrew J. Campa, Los Angeles Times, 2 Nov. 2023 Scoring the fat cap helps the seasoning penetrate the meat.—Southern Living Test Kitchen, Southern Living, 31 Oct. 2023 These little gunk-suckers are powered by salicylic acid to penetrate pimples and a hydrocolloid barrier to adsorb all the nasty stuff.—Cai Cramer, Peoplemag, 26 Oct. 2023 The tunnels are a complicating factor for Israel and allies in efforts to free the hostages: The network is vast, complex, nearly impossible to map out and difficult to penetrate.—Bryan Pietsch, Washington Post, 25 Oct. 2023 Over the years, Israel’s investment in penetrating Hamas’s inner circle in Gaza allowed Israel to uncover the group’s attack plans and occasionally led to assassinations of Hamas leaders.—Maria Abi-Habib, New York Times, 29 Oct. 2023 For starters, using a massager on your scalp before or after oiling encourages the nutrients to penetrate deeper into your scalp’s dermis and hair follicles.—Alyssa Brascia, Peoplemag, 28 Oct. 2023 See More
These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'penetrate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.
Latin penetratus, past participle of penetrare, from penitus deep within, far; akin to Latin penus provisions