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

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Other Words from penetrating

penetratingly \ ˈpe-​nə-​ˌtrā-​tiŋ-​lē How to pronounce penetrating (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
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Recent Examples on the Web Lee has long since shown herself to be among the most penetrating literary biographers in English, and has been content, before now, to write only the lives of dead authors whose reputations are secure. Andrew O’hagan, The New York Review of Books, 13 Apr. 2021 The patients sustained non-penetrating spinal cord injuries from falls or minor trauma. Chris Smith, BGR, 24 Feb. 2021 British companies understand that this dynamic allows the EU to wield a passive yet highly penetrating form of power to unilaterally transform global markets and shape corporate behavior. Anu Bradford, WSJ, 7 Feb. 2020 Available in 100- or 125-grain models, the DK4 features a one-piece aluminum ferrule and ultra-sharp penetrating steel tip. Jace Bauserman, Field & Stream, 9 Jan. 2020 And Donovan's performance is made all the more emotionally penetrating by Joe's guardedness. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 10 Dec. 2019 With the help of one particularly intrepid female seal, the researchers discovered that heat stored at the ocean’s depths can sometimes get swirled back up to the surface thanks to some deeply penetrating currents. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, 6 Dec. 2019 So, instead, here are some of the most startling and penetrating quotes from Nanette. Jenny Hollander, Marie Claire, 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, 14 June 2018

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.

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First Known Use of penetrating

1580, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for penetrating

Time Traveler

The first known use of penetrating was in 1580

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Dictionary Entries Near penetrating

penetrate someone's disguise



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Cite this Entry

“Penetrating.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Sep. 2021.

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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 penetrating (audio) \ adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on penetrating

Nglish: Translation of penetrating for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of penetrating for Arabic Speakers


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