Definition of penetrate in English:

penetrate

Line breaks: pene|trate
Pronunciation: /ˈpɛnɪtreɪt
 
/

verb

[with object]
1Go into or through (something), especially with force or effort: the shrapnel had penetrated his head [no object]: tunnels that penetrate deep into the earth’s core
More example sentences
  • That was the last thing I remembered before a familiar voice penetrated my unconsciousness.
  • The 16-year-old had a lock-knife thrust into him with such force it penetrated his chest and hit a lung.
  • An important role in destroying an enemy force that has penetrated the defense is played by the ambush party.
Synonyms
1.1(Of a man) insert the penis into the vagina or anus of (a sexual partner).
2Gain access to (an organization, place, or system), especially when this is difficult to do: M15 had been penetrated by Russian intelligence
More example sentences
  • New Orleans was perhaps distinctive in the extreme savagery of its ghettos, and the inability of civic organizations to penetrate poor areas.
  • All of the aid in the world cannot penetrate political systems which are rife with corruption and nepotism.
  • They could be exploits that would allow military intelligence to penetrate military systems.
Synonyms
2.1(Of a company) begin to sell its products in (a particular market or area): the company has succeeded in penetrating Western motorcycle markets
More example sentences
  • Determine how this initiative is going to help your firm make more money, sell more products, penetrate new markets, or increase shareholder wealth.
  • In the first quarter of this year, the order placement from China increased to around 120,000 tons partly because the company stressed penetrating the Chinese market.
  • Many low-grade products are penetrating the Thai market and were popular among local people because of lower prices.
3Succeed in understanding or gaining insight into (something complex or mysterious): I could never penetrate his thoughts
More example sentences
  • Those of us who have tried to penetrate the often baffling complexities of modern music have often had cause to be grateful to him for unravelling its mysteries.
  • I felt I had finally penetrated William's menacing mask and gained some understanding of the workings of his mind.
  • The key often symbolizes a mystery about to be penetrated or a stage on our pathway to discovery and enlightenment.
Synonyms
3.1 [no object] Be fully understood or realized by someone: as his words penetrated, she saw a mental picture of him with Dawn
More example sentences
  • The cold anger Geoff felt was pushed aside by concern as her words penetrated.
  • Mel echoed, letting the words slowly penetrate.
  • She's pretty, he thinks unexpectedly, but the thought is lost as her words penetrate.
Synonyms
be understood, be comprehended, be taken in, be grasped, become clear; register, make an impression, get through, sink in, fall into place, dawn, come home
informal click

Origin

mid 16th century: from Latin penetrat- 'placed or gone into', from the verb penetrare; related to penitus 'inner'.

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