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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web The combination of large spending, the frequency of grocery shopping and its relative lack of e-commerce penetration has made groceries a prime (pun intended) target for Amazon, China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and other new economy giants. Washington Post, "Amazon Throws Spaghetti at the Grocery Wall," 20 Nov. 2019 But Liverpool were frustrated time and time again, with a lack of penetration from midfield and wide positions serving as the Reds downfall., "Liverpool Must Signal Intent With X-Factor Signings & Relieve the Burden on Mohamed Salah," 21 Oct. 2019 The largest markets in terms of penetration are San Francisco with 4 percent and Manhattan with 3.6 percent. Nancy Sarnoff, Houston Chronicle, "WeWork, Regus provide lion's share of Houston coworking space," 27 Sep. 2019 Sergio Jardinez-Soto, 22, was found guilty in April by a jury of forcible digital penetration of a minor, prosecutors said. Bay City News, The Mercury News, "Salinas man sentenced to 6 years for sexually assaulting 15-year-old girl," 21 Sep. 2019 There were times where defenders blew up a run with sheer physicality and penetration, as well. Cameron Teague Robinson, The Courier-Journal, "Louisville football grades: Quarterbacks, offensive line struggle in loss to Clemson," 21 Oct. 2019 That may not make for pretty viewing as the U.K. has the fourth-lowest penetration of fiber-optic broadband in the European Union. Alex Webb | Bloomberg, Washington Post, "Liverpool vs. Everton Is a Match Made for Amazon," 3 Dec. 2019 This fort will mark the farthest northern and eastward penetration of the French. al, "The story of us: Alabama history 10,000 BC to now," 28 Nov. 2019 Fultz recorded 17 drives into the paint, his most this season, and his penetration helped him score nine of his 13 points. Roy Parry,, "Magic point guard Markelle Fultz continues to surge on offense," 24 Nov. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of penetration

1605, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Time Traveler for penetration

Time Traveler

The first known use of penetration was in 1605

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Statistics for penetration

Last Updated

7 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Penetration.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 19 January 2020.

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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

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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).


to insert between existing elements

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