See more synonyms for penetration on
  1. the act or power of penetrating.
  2. mental acuteness, discernment, or insight: a scholar of rare penetration.
  3. the obtaining of a share of a market for some commodity or service.
  4. the extension, usually peaceful, of the influence of one nation or culture into the affairs of another.
  5. a military attack that penetrates into enemy territory.
  6. Gunnery. the depth to which a projectile goes into the target.
  7. the measure of relative depth of field of a telescope or microscope, especially a binocular microscope.

Origin of penetration

First recorded in 1595–1605, penetration is from the Late Latin word penetrātiōn- (stem of penetrātiō). See penetrate, -ion
Related formsnon·pen·e·tra·tion, nounpre·pen·e·tra·tion, nounself-pen·e·tra·tion, nountrans·pen·e·tra·tion, noun

Synonyms for penetration

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for penetration

Contemporary Examples of penetration

Historical Examples of penetration

  • How it came, how it was passed from hearth to hearth, defied our penetration.

    In the Valley

    Harold Frederic

  • His eyes were the eyes of a scholar, dreamy yet alive with depth and penetration.

    The Long Voyage

    Carl Richard Jacobi

  • She broke off suddenly, looking at him, her eyes a pair of gimlets now for penetration.

    The Lion's Skin

    Rafael Sabatini

  • You do no credit to your own penetration, dear Mr. Ferdinand, if you deny it.

    Aunt Rachel

    David Christie Murray

  • During his reign the problem of Turkish penetration was taken in hand.

British Dictionary definitions for penetration


  1. the act or an instance of penetrating
  2. the ability or power to penetrate
  3. keen insight or perception
  4. military an offensive manoeuvre that breaks through an enemy's defensive position
  5. Also called: market penetration the proportion of the total number of potential purchasers of a product or service who either are aware of its existence or actually buy it
  6. another name for depth of field
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 penetration

c.1600, "insight, shrewdness," from Latin penetrationem (nominative penetratio) "a penetrating or piercing," noun of action from past participle stem of penetrare (see penetrate). The sexual sense is attested from 1610s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper