1 : to diffuse through or penetrate something
2 : to spread or diffuse through
3 : to pass through the pores or interstices of
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").
"As social media continues to permeate daily life, artists are also met with increasing demand from fans for content. Their enthusiasm is good for artists—but also challenging to satisfy." — Tatiana Cirisano, Billboard, 15 Mar. 2019
"Anna Talvi … has constructed her flesh-hugging clothing to act as a sort of 'wearable gym' to counter the muscle-wasting and bone loss caused by living in low gravity. She has also tried to tackle the serious psychological challenges of space exploration by permeating her fabrics with comforting scents." — Simon Ings, New Scientist, 18 Oct. 2019
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
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