verb (used with object), pen·e·trat·ed, pen·e·trat·ing.

verb (used without object), pen·e·trat·ed, pen·e·trat·ing.

Nearby words

  1. penetrable,
  2. penetralia,
  3. penetrance,
  4. penetrant,
  5. penetrant gene,
  6. penetrating,
  7. penetrating wound,
  8. penetration,
  9. penetration aid,
  10. penetrative

Origin of penetrate

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 formspen·e·tra·tor, nounpre·pen·e·trate, verb (used with object), pre·pen·e·trat·ed, pre·pen·e·trat·ing.un·pen·e·trat·ed, adjective

Synonym study

1. See pierce. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for penetrate

British Dictionary definitions for penetrate



to find or force a way into or through (something); pierce; enter
to diffuse through (a substance); permeate
(tr) to see throughtheir eyes could not penetrate the fog
(tr) (of a man) to insert the penis into the vagina of (a woman)
(tr) to grasp the meaning of (a principle, etc)
(intr) to be understoodhis face lit up as the new idea penetrated
Derived Forms

Word Origin for penetrate

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

Word Origin and History for penetrate



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