pen·​e·​trat·​ing | \ ˈpe-nə-ˌtrā-tiŋ How to pronounce penetrating (audio) \

Definition of penetrating

1 : having the power of entering, piercing, or pervading a penetrating shriek
2 : acute, discerning penetrating insights into life

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from penetrating

penetratingly \ ˈpe-​nə-​ˌtrā-​tiŋ-​lē How to pronounce penetratingly (audio) \ adverb

Examples of penetrating in a Sentence

She is one of our most penetrating and provocative critical thinkers. an author famous for her penetrating social commentary a penetrating account of what really happened during the crisis flowers that give off a penetrating perfume
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

So, instead, here are some of the most startling and penetrating quotes from Nanette. Jenny Hollander, Marie Claire, "13 Hannah Gadsby 'Nanette' Quotes You Won't Be Able to Stop Thinking About," 20 July 2018 The penetrating documentary, which gets remarkable access to its subjects, is an honest, universal look at body issues and the navigation of relationships. David Lewis, San Francisco Chronicle, "Frameline offers movie feast during Pride Week," 14 June 2018 Rieslings from Austria generally feel firmer, denser and more penetrating, while those from Alsace are altogether bigger and more voluminous. Eric Asimov, New York Times, "2016 Dry German Rieslings: Graceful, Resonant, Delicious," 3 May 2018 No one has written with more penetrating skepticism about the history of human rights than Samuel Moyn, a professor of law and history at Yale and one of the leading academic intellectuals at work today. Adam Kirsch, WSJ, "‘Not Enough’ Review: Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There," 19 Apr. 2018 Comey set up an unprecedented public challenge from someone of his stature to a sitting commander in chief, framing the most penetrating critique of Trump's White House yet from an establishment figure. Stephen Collinson, CNN, "Trump now faces Comey's moral assault," 16 Apr. 2018 Without offering a spoiler, the two plots reveal in their unlikely interconnectedness a penetrating portrait of Israeli society today. Jessica Zack, San Francisco Chronicle, "Actor stars in two penetrating looks at Israel today," 7 Mar. 2018 Misdirection fakes, screens, play-action and draws, for example, can take the edge off a penetrating front. Jeff Mclane,, "Film analysis: Why the Eagles' defensive line is their best chance at winning the Super Bowl | Jeff McLane," 26 Jan. 2018 Private insurers, who mostly have paid these bills without question, also are taking a more penetrating look at spending on the controversial lab work. Fred Schulte,, "Medicare fails to recover hundreds of millions of dollars in lab overcharges," 15 Dec. 2017

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

See More

First Known Use of penetrating

1580, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about penetrating

Statistics for penetrating

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for penetrating

The first known use of penetrating was in 1580

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for penetrating



English Language Learners Definition of penetrating

: able to understand something clearly and fully
: helping people to understand something clearly and fully
: spreading out deeply or widely



Medical Definition of penetrating

: having the power of entering, piercing, or pervading treat hemorrhage from both penetrating injury and blunt traumaJournal of the American Medical Association

Other Words from penetrating

penetratingly \ -​ˌtrāt-​iŋ-​lē How to pronounce penetratingly (audio) \ adverb

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on penetrating

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


recurring in steady succession

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!