per·​me·​ate | \ ˈpər-mē-ˌāt How to pronounce permeate (audio) \
permeated; permeating

Definition of permeate

intransitive verb

: to diffuse through or penetrate something

transitive verb

1 : to spread or diffuse through a room permeated with tobacco smoke
2 : to pass through the pores or interstices of

Other Words from permeate

permeative \ ˈpər-​mē-​ˌā-​tiv How to pronounce permeate (audio) \ adjective

Did you know?

It's no surprise that permeate means "to pass through something"—it was borrowed into English in the 17th century from Latin permeatus, which comes from the prefix per- ("through") and the verb meare, meaning "to go" or "to pass." Meare itself comes from an ancient root that may have also led to Middle Welsh and Czech words meaning "to go" and "to pass," respectively. Other descendants of meare in English include permeative, permeable, meatus ("a natural body passage"), and the relatively rare irremeable ("offering no possibility of return").

Examples of permeate in a Sentence

The water permeated the sand. The smell of baking bread permeated the kitchen. A feeling of anxiety permeated the office as we rushed to meet the deadline. The rain permeated through the soil.
Recent Examples on the Web Working within an industry at the forefront of innovation is not enough—a culture of innovation starts at the top of the organization and must permeate all levels. Matthew Kushner, Forbes, 26 Apr. 2022 Still, deep partisan divides permeate Congress as the nation faces the coronavirus pandemic, high consumer prices and fallout from last year's insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Ryan Tarinelli, Arkansas Online, 2 Mar. 2022 Calmness and quietness permeate the crisp air surrounding Vermont's Smugglers' Notch ski resort in the winter. Eric Stafford, Car and Driver, 11 Mar. 2022 Finally, to drive real impact, a sustainability ethos must also permeate corporate culture. Brian Stafford, Fortune, 16 Feb. 2022 But fair food culture also seems to permeate the very soul of Salem-area food carts and restaurants. oregonlive, 13 May 2021 In the decades since his death, Cole’s voice and spirit have continued to permeate culture. Los Angeles Times, 11 Mar. 2022 Digital intelligence will permeate the workplace with profound consequences. Susan Galer, Forbes, 18 Jan. 2022 The Tecnica prototype felt much closer to production than that first STO did, with a near-finished interior and a welcome absence of the funk of sweaty engineers that tends to permeate hard-worked test mules. Mike Duff, Car and Driver, 12 Apr. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of permeate

1656, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for permeate

Latin permeatus, past participle of permeare, from per- through + meare to go, pass; akin to Middle Welsh mynet to go, Czech míjet to pass

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Time Traveler for permeate

Time Traveler

The first known use of permeate was in 1656

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Statistics for permeate

Last Updated

22 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Permeate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for permeate


per·​me·​ate | \ ˈper-mē-ˌāt How to pronounce permeate (audio) \
permeated; permeating

Kids Definition of permeate

1 : to pass through something that has pores or small openings or is in a loose form Water permeates sand.
2 : to spread throughout The smell of smoke permeated the room.


per·​me·​ate | \ ˈpər-mē-ˌāt How to pronounce permeate (audio) \
permeated; permeating

Medical Definition of permeate

intransitive verb

: to diffuse through or penetrate something

transitive verb

: to pass through the pores or interstices of

More from Merriam-Webster on permeate

Nglish: Translation of permeate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of permeate for Arabic Speakers


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