penetrate

verb
pen·​e·​trate | \ ˈpe-nə-ˌtrāt How to pronounce penetrate (audio) \
penetrated; penetrating

Definition of penetrate

transitive verb

1a : to pass into or through this route … penetrates the leading resort and lake areasAmerican Guide Series: Minnesota Only a dirt road penetrates the rough, wooded terrain.
b : to enter by overcoming resistance : pierce This bullet can penetrate armor.
c : to gain entrance to an apartment that I now penetrated for the first time— Osbert Lancaster
2a : to see into or through their keen eyes can penetrate the water to a depth of … forty feet— L. K. Porritt
b : to discover the inner contents or meaning of a scientific secret which will eventually be penetrated by other countries— Vera M. Dean
3 : to affect profoundly with feeling men may still be penetrated with awe by the divine righteousness— R. W. Dale
4 : to diffuse through or into the cold began to penetrate his bones— E. K. Gann

intransitive verb

1a : to pass, extend, pierce, or diffuse into or through something fishes … which enter tidal rivers and penetrate almost to fresh water— J. L. B. Smith
b : to pierce something with the eye or mind strained his eyes to penetrate beyond the thick cloud of dust insight that penetrates to the very heart of some … problem— W. F. Hambly
2 : to affect deeply the senses or feelings the suggestion might penetrate deeply enough … to make her a good deal more wary— H. A. Overstreet

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Synonyms & Antonyms for penetrate

Synonyms

access, enter, pierce

Antonyms

depart, exit, leave

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Choose the Right Synonym for penetrate

enter, penetrate, pierce, probe mean to make way into something. 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Dabbing on eye treatments first allows them to penetrate more effectively. Baze Mpinja, Marie Claire, "Have Sensitive Skin? Do These 4 Things Before Bed," 8 Mar. 2019 The mittens are made using the same technology as space blankets, and the foil locks in your body heat to allow the oils to really penetrate into your skin. Glamour, "This Self-Warming Hand Mask Saves My Cuticles Between Manicures," 7 Mar. 2019 Memories are still fresh of the Russian phishing expedition that used email attachments to try to penetrate at least five county election systems before the 2016 election. Steve Bousquet, miamiherald, "Florida's election experts still worried about keeping hackers out | Miami Herald," 27 May 2018 Security experts are also worried that hackers operating out of Iran or Russia could renew their efforts to penetrate computer systems in the United States, including machines that operate critical infrastructure like the electric power grid. Nicole Perlroth, New York Times, "White House Eliminates Cybersecurity Coordinator Role," 15 May 2018 Accusations of Hacking The Democratic suit accuses Russian intelligence of hacking into its computers, penetrating its telephone systems and gaining access to tens of thousands of documents and emails. Bloomberg.com, "DNC Sues Trump Campaign, WikiLeaks, Russia Over Election Interference," 20 Apr. 2018 Wisconsin and federal officials denied central aspects of Tuesday's report, saying there were no signs that hackers were successful in their attempts to penetrate Wisconsin systems. Patrick Marley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Report suggests Wisconsin one of seven states to have systems or websites hacked by Russians," 28 Feb. 2018 Texas officials responded that the hackers didn't get very far in penetrating any systems. Forrest Milburn, Houston Chronicle, "Early voting in Texas underway," 20 Feb. 2018 In these works, Sironi, like De Chirico, Morandi and Carrà, each in his own way, penetrated to the inwardness of physical forms to reveal that every object, truly observed, is mysterious. Lance Esplund, WSJ, "‘Metaphysical Masterpieces 1916-1920: Morandi, Sironi, and Carrà’ Review: Every Object’s Mysteries," 16 Jan. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'penetrate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of penetrate

circa 1530, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for penetrate

Latin penetratus, past participle of penetrare, from penitus deep within, far; akin to Latin penus provisions

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Statistics for penetrate

Last Updated

16 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for penetrate

The first known use of penetrate was circa 1530

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More Definitions for penetrate

penetrate

verb

English Language Learners Definition of penetrate

: to go through or into something
: to see or show the way through (something)
: to succeed in becoming part of (an organization, a community, etc.)

penetrate

verb
pen·​e·​trate | \ ˈpe-nə-ˌtrāt How to pronounce penetrate (audio) \
penetrated; penetrating

Kids Definition of penetrate

1 : to pass into or through A nail penetrated the tire. But his voice was not strong enough to penetrate the thick wall.— E. B. White, Stuart Little
2 : to see into or through My eyes couldn't penetrate the darkness.

penetrate

verb
pen·​e·​trate | \ ˈpen-ə-ˌtrāt How to pronounce penetrate (audio) \
penetrated; penetrating

Medical Definition of penetrate

transitive verb

1 : to pass into or through enzymes that help the sperm penetrate the zona pellucida— Anna Maria Gillis
2 : to insert the penis into the vagina of in copulation

intransitive verb

: to pass, extend, pierce, or diffuse into or through something penetrating percutaneous nephroscopy or ureteroscopy— R. A. Riehle et al

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