[ pur-mee-uh-bil-i-tee ]
/ ˌpɜr mi əˈbɪl ɪ ti /
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the property or state of being permeable.
Also called magnetic permeability. Electricity. a measure of the change in magnetic induction produced when a magnetic material replaces air, expressed as a coefficient or a set of coefficients that multiply the components of magnetic intensity to give the components of magnetic induction.
Geology. the capability of a porous rock or sediment to permit the flow of fluids through its pore spaces.
Aeronautics. the rate at which gas is lost through the envelope of an aerostat, usually expressed as the number of liters thus diffused in one day through a square meter.
Nautical. the capacity of a space in a vessel to absorb water, measured with reference to its temporary or permanent contents and expressed as a percentage of the total volume of the space.



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Origin of permeability

First recorded in 1750–60; perme(able) + -ability

OTHER WORDS FROM permeability

non·per·me·a·bil·i·ty, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What does permeability mean?

Permeability is the quality or state of being permeable—able to be penetrated or passed through, especially by a liquid or gas.

The verb permeate means to penetrate, pass through, and often become widespread throughout something. Similar words are pervade and saturate.

Permeate can be used both in the context of the physical spread of something within a space and in more figurative ways. Water permeates the soil. Dye permeates fabric. An idea can permeate someone’s mind. In these cases, the fabric and the mind could be described as permeable.

Things that are permeable have different levels of permeability. For example, certain materials may easily absorb liquid, while others may only allow small amounts of liquid to permeate their surface.

The word permeability is used in several more specific ways in the context of ships, aircraft, electricity, and geology.

Example: This type of stone was chosen for its permeability—it absorbs water.

Where does permeability come from?

The first records of the word permeability come from around 1760. It ultimately comes from the Latin verb permeāre, meaning “to pass through.”

Things that permeate often pass through some barrier or threshold—physical or otherwise—and then spread out. For this to happen, such barriers, thresholds, and surfaces must have a level of permeability. In physical contexts, this often involves a porous membrane for liquids and gases to pass. Increasing the permeability of some outdoor surfaces can help water to be absorbed into the ground and reduce runoff.

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What are some other forms related to permeability?

What are some synonyms for permeable?

What are some words that share a root or word element with permeability


What are some words that often get used in discussing permeability?

How is permeability used in real life?

Permeability is most often used in scientific and technical contexts.



Try using permeability!

Is permeability used correctly in the following sentence?

The permeability of the liquid will help it to penetrate this material.

Example sentences from the Web for permeability

British Dictionary definitions for permeability

/ (ˌpɜːmɪəˈbɪlɪtɪ) /


the state or quality of being permeable
a measure of the response of a medium to a magnetic field, expressed as the ratio of the magnetic flux density in the medium to the field strength; measured in henries per metreSymbol: μ See also relative permeability, magnetic constant
civil engineering the rate of diffusion of a fluid under pressure through soil
the rate at which gas diffuses through the surface of a balloon or airship, usually expressed in litres per square metre per day
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

Medical definitions for permeability

[ pûr′mē-ə-bĭlĭ-tē ]


The property or condition of being permeable.
The rate of flow of a liquid or gas through a porous material.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Scientific definitions for permeability

[ pûr′mē-ə-bĭlĭ-tē ]

The ability of a substance to allow another substance to pass through it, especially the ability of a porous rock, sediment, or soil to transmit fluid through pores and cracks. Geologic permeability is usually measured in millidarcies. See more at darcy.
Magnetic permeability.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.