penetrate

verb
pen·​e·​trate | \ ˈpe-nə-ˌtrāt How to pronounce penetrate (audio) \
penetrated; penetrating

Definition of penetrate

transitive verb

1a : to pass into or through this route … penetrates the leading resort and lake areasAmerican Guide Series: Minnesota Only a dirt road penetrates the rough, wooded terrain.
b : to enter by overcoming resistance : pierce This bullet can penetrate armor.
c : to gain entrance to an apartment that I now penetrated for the first time— Osbert Lancaster
2a : to see into or through their keen eyes can penetrate the water to a depth of … forty feet— L. K. Porritt
b : to discover the inner contents or meaning of a scientific secret which will eventually be penetrated by other countries— Vera M. Dean
3 : to affect profoundly with feeling men may still be penetrated with awe by the divine righteousness— R. W. Dale
4 : to diffuse through or into the cold began to penetrate his bones— E. K. Gann

intransitive verb

1a : to pass, extend, pierce, or diffuse into or through something fishes … which enter tidal rivers and penetrate almost to fresh water— J. L. B. Smith
b : to pierce something with the eye or mind strained his eyes to penetrate beyond the thick cloud of dust insight that penetrates to the very heart of some … problem— W. F. Hambly
2 : to affect deeply the senses or feelings the suggestion might penetrate deeply enough … to make her a good deal more wary— H. A. Overstreet

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Synonyms & Antonyms for penetrate

Synonyms

Antonyms

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Choose the Right Synonym for penetrate

enter, penetrate, pierce, probe mean to make way into something. enter is the most general of these and may imply either going in or forcing a way in. entered the city in triumph penetrate carries a strong implication of an impelling force or compelling power that achieves entrance. the enemy penetrated the fortress pierce means an entering or cutting through with a sharp pointed instrument. pierced the boil with a lancet probe implies penetration to investigate or explore something hidden from sight or knowledge. probed the depths of the sea

Examples of penetrate in a Sentence

These bullets can penetrate armor. radiation penetrating the Earth's atmosphere The bullet failed to penetrate. The heat penetrated through the wall. The roots of these plants have been known to penetrate to a depth of more than 15 feet. My car's headlights couldn't penetrate the dense fog.
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Recent Examples on the Web In addition, both laser skin resurfacing and chemical peels penetrate the skin to trigger collagen production, says Dr. Yadav, which can help to give your skin a more firm and youthful appearance. Emily Orofino, Good Housekeeping, 1 Oct. 2021 The move also enabled the Clippers to play with greater space and more room to operate, penetrate, and get Utah moving around. Shane Young, Forbes, 14 June 2021 The Orange County Register reported that girls on opposing teams had emerged from the pool accusing Hojreh’s swimmers of trying to grab and penetrate their genitals underwater. NBC News, 8 June 2021 The Orange County Register reported that girls on opposing teams had emerged from the pool accusing Hojreh’s swimmers of trying to grab and penetrate their genitals underwater. Brian Melley, ajc, 7 June 2021 The Orange County Register reported that girls on opposing teams had emerged from the pool accusing Hojreh's swimmers of trying to grab and penetrate their genitals underwater. Brian Melley, Star Tribune, 7 June 2021 The Orange County Register reported that girls on opposing teams had emerged from the pool accusing Hojreh’s swimmers of trying to grab and penetrate their genitals underwater. Brian Melley, chicagotribune.com, 7 June 2021 The Spike protein is what allows the virus to attach and penetrate human cells. Mark Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 6 Apr. 2021 And numerous questions remain about how the perpetrators were able to penetrate the president’s residence posing as U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents, meeting little resistance from those charged with protecting the president. BostonGlobe.com, 11 July 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'penetrate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of penetrate

circa 1530, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for penetrate

Latin penetratus, past participle of penetrare, from penitus deep within, far; akin to Latin penus provisions

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Time Traveler for penetrate

Time Traveler

The first known use of penetrate was circa 1530

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Dictionary Entries Near penetrate

penetrant

penetrate

penetrate someone's disguise

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Statistics for penetrate

Last Updated

16 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Penetrate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/penetrate. Accessed 23 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for penetrate

penetrate

verb

English Language Learners Definition of penetrate

: to go through or into something
: to see or show the way through (something)
: to succeed in becoming part of (an organization, a community, etc.)

penetrate

verb
pen·​e·​trate | \ ˈpe-nə-ˌtrāt How to pronounce penetrate (audio) \
penetrated; penetrating

Kids Definition of penetrate

1 : to pass into or through A nail penetrated the tire. But his voice was not strong enough to penetrate the thick wall.— E. B. White, Stuart Little
2 : to see into or through My eyes couldn't penetrate the darkness.

penetrate

verb
pen·​e·​trate | \ ˈpen-ə-ˌtrāt How to pronounce penetrate (audio) \
penetrated; penetrating

Medical Definition of penetrate

transitive verb

1 : to pass into or through enzymes that help the sperm penetrate the zona pellucida— Anna Maria Gillis
2 : to insert the penis into the vagina of in copulation

intransitive verb

: to pass, extend, pierce, or diffuse into or through something penetrating percutaneous nephroscopy or ureteroscopy— R. A. Riehle et al.

More from Merriam-Webster on penetrate

Nglish: Translation of penetrate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of penetrate for Arabic Speakers

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