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.
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 1530
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
What made you want to look up penetrate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).