Definition of penetrate
1a : to pass into or through this route … penetrates the leading resort and lake areas — American 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. Porrittb : 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
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. Smithb : 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
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.
Recent Examples of penetrate from the Web
On Saturday, a Washington Post report indicated that U.S. intelligence officials have now concluded that Russian hackers have successfully penetrated the computer networks of nuclear power and other energy companies in the U.S.
Penetrating the inner workings of Kim Jong Un’s mind is an old-school challenge, not a high-tech one.
Some tools probe the AI without penetrating it; some are alternative algorithms that can compete with neural nets, but with more transparency; and some use still more deep learning to get inside the black box.
First salicylic acid, which is oil soluble, penetrates the oily surface that coats the skin—a.k.a the epidermis.
Once this vital tissue is penetrated, the fruit acids can work on the next layer which is the water-soluble dermis.
BRULE - Bright sunlight penetrated the gin-clear water and revealed an array of red, tan and slate colored rocks on the stream's bottom.
In a society that Balkanizes itself online by creating echo chambers unfamiliar ideas can’t penetrate, great barbecue places still bring together people of every race, socioeconomic group and ideology.
He is accused of touching her private areas and penetrating her.
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.
Origin and Etymology of penetrate
Latin penetratus, past participle of penetrare, from penitus deep within, far; akin to Latin penus provisions
First Known Use: circa 1530See Words from the same year
Synonym Discussion of penetrate
PENETRATE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of penetrate for English Language Learners
: 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 Defined for Kids
Definition of penetrate for Students
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.
Medical Definition of penetrate
transitive verb: 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
Seen and Heard
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