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

Jeffrey Hanze, 56, pleaded guilty last month to one count each of digital penetration of an unconscious person and hot prowl residential burglary, and admitted to having a prior serious felony conviction for burglary. City News Service, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Pacific Beach rapist get nearly 24 years in prison," 4 June 2019 In the case of both companies, part of the weakness in their second-quarter numbers was a long time coming — for example, Facebook’s market penetration in North America and Europe is already quite high. Emily Stewart, Vox, "The $120-billion reason we can’t expect Facebook to police itself," 28 July 2018 During a first-half timeout Underwood implored his players to stop allowing such easy penetration. Jeff Potrykus, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wisconsin 75, Illinois 50: Badgers bounce back from Purdue loss with impressive victory," 19 Jan. 2018 Some require vaginal penetration to orgasm, while others can experience an orgasm simply from a partner playing with other erogenous zones, like nipples. Hannah Orenstein, Seventeen, "30 Girls Get Real About What an Orgasm Feels Like," 24 Aug. 2017 Driven by online video-streaming services’ increasing penetration of international markets, world-wide digital home-entertainment revenue leapt to $42.6 billion last year from $32.9 billion in 2017. R.t. Watson, WSJ, "Trading Places: Global Box Office Dethroned by Spending on Home Entertainment," 21 Mar. 2019 People with penises can also wear strap-ons to engage in double penetration. Sophie Saint Thomas, SELF, "9 Things to Know Before You Try Strap-On Sex," 2 Mar. 2019 Is the penetration fast or slow enough? Too deep or shallow? Sophie Saint Thomas, SELF, "9 Things to Know Before You Try Strap-On Sex," 2 Mar. 2019 Heterosexual penetration is just one option amongst many for receiving connection and pleasure. Daisy Melamed Sanders, Seventeen, "5 Things You Definitely Don't Learn in Sex Ed," 11 Jan. 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.

See More

First Known Use of penetration

1605, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about penetration

Statistics for penetration

Last Updated

10 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for penetration

The first known use of penetration was in 1605

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for penetration



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

More from Merriam-Webster on penetration

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with penetration

Spanish Central: Translation of penetration

Nglish: Translation of penetration for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of penetration for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about penetration

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).


behavior toward others

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Add Diction

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!