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[pen-i-truh nt] /ˈpɛn ɪ trənt/
a person or thing that penetrates.
a compound that penetrates the skin, as a lotion or cream.
a substance that lowers the surface tension of water; wetting agent.
Zoology. a large nematocyst discharging a barbed thread that penetrates the body of the prey and injects a toxic fluid.
Origin of penetrant
1535-45; < Latin penetrant- (stem of penetrāns), present participle of penetrāre to penetrate; see -ant
Related forms
unpenetrant, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for penetrant
Historical Examples
  • The dew lay heavy on the laurel leaves of the thickets, and the breeze was perfumed with the penetrant fragrance of many blossoms.

    Heart of the Blue Ridge Waldron Baily
  • Then he raised his eyes from the water and swept the sky in a penetrant gaze.

    The Harvester Gene Stratton Porter
  • With Mr. Tassers penetrant and suspicious gaze on him, he decided that it would be wise to avoid all seeming interest in Myron.

    Full-Back Foster Ralph Henry Barbour
  • "What he doesn't sell he buys," he cried in his nervous, penetrant tones.

    The Voice of the People Ellen Glasgow
  • Sharp shoe-calks afford a means of infliction of penetrant wounds which may occasion open joint and infectious arthritis.

    Lameness of the Horse John Victor Lacroix
  • But this comparison is not satisfactory, because there is a penetrant metallic quality in the twang, impossible to describe.

British Dictionary definitions for penetrant


sharp; penetrating
(chem) a substance that lowers the surface tension of a liquid and thus causes it to penetrate or be absorbed more easily
a person or thing that penetrates
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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