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

Antonyms

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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 In another case, Taeltech was able to help a dashi sauce manufacturer penetrate the China market, which is largely dominated by local players with legacy reputations. Tiffany Lung, Forbes, 4 June 2021 The Namayans would remain in a two-bedroom condominium with two teenagers while struggling to penetrate the white hot post-pandemic housing market. New York Times, 29 May 2021 About 450 had fallen short and failed to penetrate Israel. Tim Lister, CNN, 18 May 2021 The results give engineers an idea how deep a weapon might penetrate before exploding, especially those targeting underground bunkers. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 6 Apr. 2021 The can conveniently sprays from any angle to penetrate tough-to-reach areas. Chris Hachey, BGR, 25 May 2021 Listed at 6-4 and 357 pounds during the season, Bohanna displayed surprising agility for a man that size, showing a pretty good first step, the ability to backdoor zone blocks and cross a blocker’s face to penetrate. John Owning, Dallas News, 23 Apr. 2021 There’s Michael Weathers, a transfer from Oklahoma State, who Pearl described as a great point guard who can penetrate the paint. Giana Han, al, 15 Dec. 2020 One place where the smoke-taint compounds can penetrate is the grape skins. Esther Mobley, SFChronicle.com, 20 Aug. 2020

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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Learn More About penetrate

Time Traveler for penetrate

Time Traveler

The first known use of penetrate was circa 1530

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Statistics for penetrate

Last Updated

18 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Penetrate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/penetrate. Accessed 19 Jun. 2021.

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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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