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

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
Recent Examples on the Web Internet penetration in Latin America has never been higher, with approximately four out of five Argentines and Ecuadorians online, along with almost two-thirds of the Brazilian and Mexican population. Patrick O'neill, Forbes, 18 Apr. 2022 However, this penetration can be a great change of pace for a defense that may be struggling to stop the run and rush the quarterback. Lance Reisland, cleveland, 15 Apr. 2022 Such penetration into the mainstream is the result of a decade-old organizational effort by the right. New York Times, 6 Apr. 2022 In Western Europe, penetration is just under a third. Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter, 17 Jan. 2022 While Wells doesn’t share sales data publicly, Halo Top did say its household penetration has grown by 14% over the last year. Danielle Wiener-bronner, CNN, 19 Apr. 2022 The bank aims to boost its share of the global spending on TTS and expand its under-penetration among midsize clients. Telis Demos, WSJ, 2 Mar. 2022 But the Celtics are going to have to improve on allowing dribble penetration because an unimpeded ball handler in the paint causes all types of trouble. Globe Staff,, 2 Apr. 2022 KeyShawn Feazell scored on a layup off a dribble penetration pass from Alex O’Connell to trim the deficit a little more, to 73-72. New York Times, 19 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near penetration



penetration gland

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Statistics for penetration

Last Updated

15 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Penetration.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for penetration


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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