Definition of permeate
- a room permeated with tobacco smoke
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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.
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.
It's no surprise that permeate means "to pass through something" - it was borrowed into English in the mid-17th century from the 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").
First Known Use: 1656See Words from the same year
What made you want to look up permeate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).
to cause to suffer severely from hunger
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