Synonym Chooser

How does the verb penetrate differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of penetrate are enter, pierce, and probe. While all these words mean "to make way into something," penetrate carries a strong implication of an impelling force or compelling power that achieves entrance.

the enemy penetrated the fortress

When would enter be a good substitute for penetrate?

The words enter and penetrate are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, enter is the most general of these and may imply either going in or forcing a way in.

entered the city in triumph

When is pierce a more appropriate choice than penetrate?

While in some cases nearly identical to penetrate, pierce means an entering or cutting through with a sharp pointed instrument.

pierced the boil with a lancet

When can probe be used instead of penetrate?

The synonyms probe and penetrate are sometimes interchangeable, but probe implies penetration to investigate or explore something hidden from sight or knowledge.

probed the depths of the sea

Thesaurus Entries Near penetrate

Cite this Entry

“Penetrate.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Mar. 2023.

More from Merriam-Webster on penetrate

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