permeable

adjective

per·​me·​able ˈpər-mē-ə-bəl How to pronounce permeable (audio)
: capable of being permeated : penetrable
especially : having pores or openings that permit liquids or gases to pass through
a permeable membrane
permeable limestone

Did you know?

The synonyms permeable and pervious both make good use of the Latin prefix per-, meaning "through." Permeable traces back to a combination of per- and the Latin verb meare, meaning "to go" or "to pass," whereas the history of pervious calls upon Latin via, meaning "way." Both permeable and its more common relative, the verb permeate, still retain the original Latin idea of "passing through." Pervious also has the connotation of "penetrating through" but is also used to describe a susceptible mind, as in "Though set in his ways, the professor was pervious to reason." The prefix per- also gave English pervade, meaning "to become diffused throughout every part of." Meare also has other English descendants, including congé, which can mean "a formal permission to depart," and irremeable, meaning "offering no possibility of return."

Example Sentences

The cell has a permeable membrane. a permeable fabric that allows your body heat to escape will be much more comfortable in the summertime
Recent Examples on the Web But lightweight garments, such as the Transport Merino tights and crew neck, also exploit two-sided fabric construction—only these versions enlarge the air channels to create a super-sheer, air-permeable material. Kelly Bastone, Outside Online, 29 Jan. 2020 Chung, despite her own laserlike precision, is interested in permeable boundaries: the membranes between reality and irreality, pushy parent and yielding child, sanity and illness. Helen Shaw, The New Yorker, 12 Nov. 2022 These containers have permeable bottoms that allow the water to drip through, preventing flooding in the surrounding community and capturing a precious resource. WIRED, 18 Oct. 2022 The garden is low-water, while the pathways and the front driveway are permeable. Deanna Kizis, Sunset Magazine, 6 Oct. 2022 Fire itself can weaken or kill plants and make the soil less permeable, so rain is more likely to run off, not soak in. New York Times, 29 Nov. 2021 Heat and dehydration also draw more blood away from the gut, making the lining more permeable. Alex Hutchinson, Outside Online, 1 Aug. 2021 With skin as permeable as a sponge, the frog is also highly susceptible to a fungus linked to amphibians vanishing around the world. Los Angeles Times, 18 Sep. 2022 To our unconscious, however, time might be less stable and more permeable. Ian Beacock, The New Republic, 25 Aug. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'permeable.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of permeable was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near permeable

Cite this Entry

“Permeable.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/permeable. Accessed 2 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

permeable

adjective

per·​me·​able ˈpər-mē-ə-bəl How to pronounce permeable (audio)
: having pores or openings that permit liquids or gases to pass through
a permeable membrane
permeable limestone

Medical Definition

permeable

adjective

per·​me·​able ˈpər-mē-ə-bəl How to pronounce permeable (audio)
: capable of being permeated
especially : having pores or openings that permit liquids or gases to pass through
a permeable membrane

More from Merriam-Webster on permeable

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