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

Paratroopers drop behind enemy lines to penetrate a fortified church and destroy a Nazi transmitter. Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week Sept. 15, 2019: ‘Alien,’ ‘Aliens’ and more," 13 Sep. 2019 The United States, with its bunker-buster bombs that could penetrate deep into underground facilities, could wait to strike. New York Times, "The Secret History of the Push to Strike Iran," 4 Sep. 2019 Taliban fighters had been able to penetrate deep into Kunduz, briefly occupying the health department and a hospital, said Ehsanullah Fazli, the health director for Kunduz province. David Zucchino, BostonGlobe.com, "Taliban attack 2d Afghan city in 2 days as peace deal nears," 1 Sep. 2019 Dry skin can benefit from occasional exfoliating to allow moisturizers to penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin. Allure, "The Best Eminence Organic Skin Care Products for Your Skin Type," 24 June 2019 Last August, then-Democratic US Senator Bill Nelson, who Scott was running against, said that Russians had penetrated the systems of certain Florida counties and had ‘‘free rein to move about’’ before last year’s midterm election. BostonGlobe.com, "Trump says director of National Intelligence is resigning," 29 July 2019 The report said Russian hackers penetrated computer networks in two counties in Florida in 2016 by obtaining information from a software vendor. Mike Cason, al.com, "Report says aging voting machines a concern in Alabama," 19 July 2019 In all kinds of ways, of course, Trump himself demonstrates how deeply the culture of impunity has penetrated the GOP. Greg Sargent, The Denver Post, "Sargent: New disclosures about lewd Trump video reveal his mastery of GOP," 11 July 2019 Top law enforcement officials have countered a claim by Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson that Russian operatives had penetrated some county election systems in his home state of Florida. Andrew O'reilly, Fox News, "DHS, FBI refute Dem Sen. Nelson's claim that Russians hacked Florida election system," 21 Aug. 2018

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

12 Oct 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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Comments on penetrate

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