pen·​e·​tra·​tion | \ ˌpe-nə-ˈtrā-shən \

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

In the final minute, a wide-open 3-pointer from the right side by Utah’s Tyler Rawson with 38 seconds left, set up by penetration from Utah star Justin Bibbins, put the Utes back into the lead, 66-64. Michael J. Lewis, The Courier-Journal, "Western Kentucky falls to Utah in final minute of NIT semifinal," 27 Mar. 2018 MmWave has worse range and worse penetration compared to LTE. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, "Don’t buy a 5G smartphone—at least, not for a while," 14 Dec. 2018 MmWave comes with significantly limiting trade-offs, though, like worse penetration, smaller range, and more susceptibility to weather when compared to LTE. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, "AT&T 5G goes live this week with ridiculously overpowered hotspot," 20 Dec. 2018 Your urethra is a tiny hole above your vaginal opening where pee comes out AKA it's not involved in any kind of penetration. Yerin Kim, Seventeen, "14 Things No One Tells You About Losing Your Virginity," 22 Aug. 2018 When using a wand for penetration, focus on the G-spot. Gigi Engle, SELF, "7 Things You Should Absolutely Do Next Time You Go Down on Someone With a Vagina," 14 Sep. 2018 But more connection and penetration is needed from Raheem Sterling and the three central players behind Kane (Jesse Lingard, Eric Dier, Jordan Henderson, et al) if England is going to contend. Brian Straus,, "Quarterfinal Stage a Narrative Tipping Point for World Cup Contenders," 5 July 2018 Trailing by as much as 12 in the first half, SHSU fought back thanks to more penetration down the stretch. Carter Karels, San Antonio Express-News, "Loss leaves ’Runners feeling a little empty," 22 Mar. 2018 But two former officials said the CIA's system for exchanging messages with its agents was shockingly primitive and subject to easy penetration by the Chinese. Ken Dilanian, NBC News, "CIA China turncoat Lee may have compromised U.S. spies in Russia too," 19 Jan. 2018

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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Last Updated

4 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for penetration

The first known use of penetration was in 1605

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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 \

Kids Definition of penetration

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


pen·​e·​tra·​tion | \ ˌpen-ə-ˈtrā-shən \

Medical Definition of penetration

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

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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

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