Word of the Day

: December 6, 2023


adjective PER-mee-uh-bul

What It Means

Permeable is a synonym of penetrable that is used especially to describe things that have pores or openings that permit liquids or gases to pass through.

// The new housing project will include a permeable parking lot to help mitigate stormwater runoff.

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permeable in Context

“The idea is to enable cities to soak up and retain excess water with designs focused on nature, including gardens, green roofs, wetlands and permeable sidewalks—allowing water to both sink into the ground and flow outwards.” — Laura Paddison, CNN, 26 Mar. 2023

Did You Know?

“Our landscapes are changing … they’re becoming less permeable to wildlife at the precise moment animals need to move most,” writes Ben Goldfarb in his book Crossings: How Road Ecology is Shaping the Future of Our Planet. He’s describing the effects of highway infrastructure and at the same time clearly demonstrating the meaning of permeable, a word that traces back to a combination of the prefix per-, meaning “through,” and the Latin verb meare, meaning “to go” or “to pass.” Accordingly, a permeable landscape—such as one where humans have constructed wildlife overpasses—is one that allows animals to pass and spread through unimpeded. Permeable’s relative, the verb permeate (“to spread or diffuse through”) is another commonly used meare descendent, but other relations haven’t managed to permeate the language quite so widely, such as meatus (“a natural body passage”), congé (“a formal permission to depart”), and irremeable (“offering no possibility of return”).

Test Your Vocabulary

Unscramble the letters to create a verb that means “to ooze or trickle through a permeable substance” and that is used especially of coffee: CLEATROPE.



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