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[pen-i-treyt] /ˈpɛn ɪˌtreɪt/
verb (used with object), penetrated, penetrating.
to pierce or pass into or through:
The bullet penetrated the wall. The fog lights penetrated the mist.
to enter the interior of:
to penetrate a forest.
to enter and diffuse itself through; permeate.
to arrive at the truth or meaning of; understand; comprehend:
to penetrate a mystery.
to obtain a share of (a market):
to penetrate the Canadian coffee market.
to affect or impress (the mind or feelings) deeply.
to extend influence, usually peacefully, into the affairs of (another country).
verb (used without object), penetrated, penetrating.
to enter, reach, or pass through something, as by piercing:
We penetrated to the interior of the Kasbah.
to be diffused through something.
to understand or read the meaning of something.
to have a deep effect or impact on someone.
1520-30; < Latin penetrātus (past participle of penetrāre), equivalent to penet-, variant stem of penitus deep down + -r- (probably by analogy with intus inside: intrāre to enter) + -ātus + -ate1
Related forms
penetrator, noun
prepenetrate, verb (used with object), prepenetrated, prepenetrating.
unpenetrated, adjective
1. See pierce. 4. fathom, discern. 6. touch. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for penetrated
  • The tallest pyramid at the site not only has looters' trenches but was deeply penetrated by a series of tunnels.
  • It would be the first time anyone has penetrated a subglacial lake on the frozen continent.
  • What caught my eye was the way the light penetrated the water on the half dead leaves of a tree which had survived the summer.
  • We penetrated that bubble of being a journalist-observer and suddenly became participants in our own story.
  • All he knew for certain was that if they penetrated that wall he'd have to fight them, with only a machete.
  • The spear had penetrated ten inches, rupturing her sinuses, which prevented her from using her trunk to drink.
  • His buttocks had been penetrated by flying hot shrapnel.
  • All penetrated everywhere and ridiculous, living in doorways.
  • He has a taste for lowering gray skies and dark roads barely penetrated by sparse headlights.
  • Even when it was over, news of the disaster and its implications arrived in fragments and penetrated slowly.
British Dictionary definitions for penetrated


to find or force a way into or through (something); pierce; enter
to diffuse through (a substance); permeate
(transitive) to see through: their eyes could not penetrate the fog
(transitive) (of a man) to insert the penis into the vagina of (a woman)
(transitive) to grasp the meaning of (a principle, etc)
(intransitive) to be understood: his face lit up as the new idea penetrated
Derived Forms
penetrable, adjective
penetrability, noun
penetrably, adverb
penetrative, adjective
penetrator, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Latin penetrāre; related to penitus inner, and penus the interior of a house
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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Word Origin and History for penetrated



1520s, from Latin penetratus, past participle of penetrare "to put or get into, enter into," related to penitus "within, inmost," penus "innermost part of a temple, store of food," penates "household gods." Related: Penetrated; penetrating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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