per·​vade pər-ˈvād How to pronounce pervade (audio)
pervaded; pervading

transitive verb

: to become diffused throughout every part of

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English speakers borrowed pervade in the mid-17th century from Latin pervadere, meaning "to go through." Pervadere, in turn, was formed by combining the prefix per-, meaning "through," with the verb vadere, meaning "to go." Synonyms of pervade include permeate, impregnate, and saturate. Pervade stresses a spreading diffusion throughout every part of a whole ("art and music pervade every aspect of their lives"). Permeate implies diffusion specifically throughout a material thing ("the smell of freshly baked bread permeated the house"). Impregnate suggests a forceful influence or effect on something throughout ("impregnate the cotton with alcohol"). Saturate is used when nothing more may be taken up or absorbed ("the cloth is saturated with water").

Examples of pervade in a Sentence

A feeling of great sadness pervades the film. Art and music pervade every aspect of their lives.
Recent Examples on the Web Unlike human homes, the birdhouses go unpainted, adding to the pervading sense of melancholy. Muktita Suhartono Nyimas Laula, New York Times, 2 Apr. 2024 Surely, blues, soul, R&B, and gospel music pervaded my life growing up in the urban landscape of a very Black Memphis. Kimberly Bryant, Essence, 29 Mar. 2024 Voids could even help to nail down the nature of —elementary particles, once thought to be massless, that pervade the universe while barely interacting with ordinary matter. Michael D. Lemonick, Scientific American, 1 Jan. 2024 Even with collaborators like Father John Misty and Jon Baptiste hitching a ride, an unshakeable solitary quality pervades the record. Jason Lamphier,, 13 Dec. 2023 Rock n’ roll is certainly what has most pervaded my works. Billboard Italy, Billboard, 6 Mar. 2024 Barry Rabe, a professor of public policy at the University of Michigan, noted the way Mr. Trump has focused on the anxiety over electric vehicles that pervades that auto-making state, one of a handful of swing states where the election is likely to be decided. Coral Davenport, New York Times, 17 Feb. 2024 What’s more, a compliance mindset that pervades many districts has further hindered them. Michael B. Horn, Forbes, 13 Feb. 2024 While The Man Who Wasn't There certainly reads on paper as another entry into this class, there's a melancholy that pervades the film that proves surprisingly resonant. Tim Moffatt,, 26 Jan. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'pervade.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin pervadere to go through, pervade, from per- through + vadere to go — more at per-, wade

First Known Use

1659, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of pervade was in 1659


Dictionary Entries Near pervade

Cite this Entry

“Pervade.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


per·​vade pər-ˈvād How to pronounce pervade (audio)
pervaded; pervading
: to spread through all parts of : permeate

More from Merriam-Webster on pervade

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