[ pur-mee-uh-buhl ]
/ ˈpɜr mi ə bəl /
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capable of being permeated.


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Origin of permeable

1400–50; late Middle English <Late Latin permeābilis, equivalent to permeā(re) to permeate + -bilis-ble


per·me·a·ble·ness, nounper·me·a·bly, adverbnon·per·me·a·ble, adjectiveun·per·me·a·ble, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does permeable mean?

Permeable means 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.

The adjective permeating describes things that have permeated or have the ability to permeate, as in Social media has become a permeating aspect of our lives.

Example: Permeable surfaces should be sealed to prevent leaks.

Where does permeable come from?

The first records of the word permeable come from the 1400s. It comes from the Late Latin permeābilis, 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 be permeable. In physical contexts, this often involves liquids and gases passing through a permeable membrane or surface layer. Permeable can also be applied to physical objects that can absorb intangible things, like flavors or smells.

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How is permeable used in real life?

Permeable is most often used in scientific and technical contexts.



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Is permeable used correctly in the following sentence?

To penetrate this material, you need to use a permeable liquid.

How to use permeable in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for permeable

/ (ˈpɜːmɪəbəl) /

capable of being permeated, esp by liquids

Derived forms of permeable

permeableness, nounpermeably, adverb

Word Origin for permeable

C15: from Late Latin permeābilis, from Latin permeāre to pervade; see permeate
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 permeable

[ pûrmē-ə-bəl ]

That can be permeated or penetrated, especially by liquids or gases.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Scientific definitions for permeable

[ pûrmē-ə-bəl ]

Capable of being passed through or permeated, especially by liquids or gases.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.