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

For decades, the phrase referred to a softer, and presumably more female-friendly genre of erotic content, one with good lighting, minimal close-ups of penetration, lots of cunnilingus, and, of course, an actual plot. Lux Alptraum, The Verge, "What if porn, but for women," 18 Sep. 2018 Again, not in terms of affecting the vote count but in terms of potential penetration of voter registration databases or something like that. Fox News, "Eric Trump: Hypocrisy of the media is really incredible," 3 Aug. 2018 In one case, Hans Keirstead, a Democratic primary challenger in California, reported that cyberattackers had attempted a brute-force penetration and successfully hacked his private email using a spearphishing campaign. Benjamin Wofford, Vox, "The midterms are already hacked. You just don’t know it yet.," 25 Oct. 2018 The active ingredient is baked into tiny micro-needles that open pathways into your skin for better product penetration. Jane Larkworthy, The Cut, "The Entrepreneur Who’s Constantly Reinventing the Beauty Game," 28 Mar. 2018 One or two hard pillows under your hips, tipping your pelvis up for deeper penetration, can make all the difference. Lynn Peters, Redbook, "Why Missionary Is the Best Sex Position of All Time," 18 Aug. 2017 Combined with other high-profile Russian hacking from 2017, like the NotPetya ransomware attacks, the grid penetrations were a sobering revelation. Lily Hay Newman, WIRED, "The Worst Cybersecurity Breaches of 2018 So Far," 9 July 2018 The active cyber penetrations and operations against the DNC, DCCC, and Clinton campaign leader John Podesta 4. Garrett M. Graff, WIRED, "Indicting 12 Russian Hackers Could Be Mueller's Biggest Move Yet," 13 July 2018 One reason is the growth in mobile-phone and internet penetration, making finance accessible even to those living a long way from physical bank branches or ATMs. The Economist, "Financial inclusion is making great strides," 3 May 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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Statistics for penetration

Last Updated

9 Dec 2018

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

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


to move with a clumsy heavy tread

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