pen·​e·​tra·​tion | \ ˌpe-nə-ˈtrā-shən How to pronounce penetration (audio) \

Definition of penetration

1a : the power to penetrate especially : the ability to discern deeply and acutely
b : the depth to which something penetrates
c : the extent to which a commercial product or agency is familiar or sells in a market
2 : the act or process of penetrating: such as
a : the act of entering a country so that actual establishment of influence is accomplished
b : an attack that penetrates the enemy's front or territory

Keep scrolling for more

Choose the Right Synonym for penetration

discernment, discrimination, perception, penetration, insight, acumen mean a power to see what is not evident to the average mind. discernment stresses accuracy (as in reading character or motives or appreciating art). the discernment to know true friends discrimination stresses the power to distinguish and select what is true or appropriate or excellent. the discrimination that develops through listening to a lot of great music perception implies quick and often sympathetic discernment (as of shades of feeling). a novelist of keen perception into human motives penetration implies a searching mind that goes beyond what is obvious or superficial. lacks the penetration to see the scorn beneath their friendly smiles insight suggests depth of discernment coupled with understanding sympathy. a documentary providing insight into the plight of the homeless acumen implies characteristic penetration combined with keen practical judgment. a director of reliable box-office acumen

Examples of penetration in a Sentence

Cuts in the skin could permit the penetration of bacteria into the body. the penetration of the CIA by foreign agents the penetration of the U.S. market by a foreign company multiple penetrations into enemy territory a writer who analyzes the underlying causes of the recession with great penetration
See More
Recent Examples on the Web But the same problems with dribble penetration that sank Indiana’s upset bid at Illinois on Sunday cost them again in the first half against the Gophers, Ihnen the primary beneficiary. Zach Osterman, Indianapolis Star, "IU basketball tops Minnesota, puts itself in strong NCAA tournament position," 5 Mar. 2020 Anderson assaulted and abused the wrestler on at least 35 occasions, or 70 total acts of nonconsensual anal penetration and genital fondling, between 1984 and 1989 when the wrestler was between the ages of 17 and 22, the suit alleges. David Jesse, Detroit Free Press, "U-M doctor's accusers: University allowed horror show to go on for decades," 5 Mar. 2020 Midband is a good mix of speed, distance and building penetration. Dallas News, "Tech 101: What is 5G and will it change our lives?," 5 Mar. 2020 Given the anemic power any handgun cartridge brings to the table compared to adequate top-end bear-stopping rifles, penetration is of vital importance. Tyler Freel, Outdoor Life, "The 10 Best Pieces of Backcountry and Survival Gear from SHOT Show 2020," 3 Feb. 2020 MmWave penetration is so poor that your hand can block the signal. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, "The Snapdragon 865 will make phones worse in 2020, thanks to mandatory 5G," 11 Dec. 2019 The payoff went beyond the penetration of the devices. Greg Miller, Anchorage Daily News, "‘Intelligence coup of the century’: How the CIA was able to read encrypted messages of allies and adversaries for decades," 11 Feb. 2020 Some change shape with penetration and some do not. Gabrielle Canon, USA TODAY, "California could be one of the first states to ban 'virginity testing'," 5 Feb. 2020 Combined with the penetration that can be expected from a monolithic, high-weight-retention bullet, Copper Impact promises excellent performance for deer-size game. Richard Mann, Field & Stream, "Best New Hunting, Long-Range, and Handgun Ammo of the 2020 SHOT Show," 22 Jan. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'penetration.' 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 penetration

1605, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about penetration

Time Traveler for penetration

Time Traveler

The first known use of penetration was in 1605

See more words from the same year

Statistics for penetration

Last Updated

17 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Penetration.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Mar. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for penetration


How to pronounce penetration (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of penetration

: the act of going through or into something : the act of penetrating something
formal : an ability to understand things clearly and fully


pen·​e·​tra·​tion | \ ˌpe-nə-ˈtrā-shən How to pronounce penetration (audio) \

Kids Definition of penetration

1 : the act or process of piercing
2 : keen understanding


pen·​e·​tra·​tion | \ ˌpen-ə-ˈtrā-shən How to pronounce penetration (audio) \

Medical Definition of penetration

1 : the depth to which something penetrates
2 : the act or process of penetrating

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on penetration

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


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

March 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • field of crocuses
  • Which is a synonym of rectitudinous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


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!