from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To enter, pass into, or force a way into.
  • intransitive verb To enter into and permeate.
  • intransitive verb To affect deeply, as by being known or by arousing the emotions.
  • intransitive verb To insert the penis, a finger, or an object into the vagina or anus of (someone).
  • intransitive verb To insert something into (the vagina or anus).
  • intransitive verb To enter (an organization, for example), usually surreptitiously, so as to gain influence or information; infiltrate.
  • intransitive verb To enter and gain a share of (a market).
  • intransitive verb To grasp the significance of; understand.
  • intransitive verb To see through.
  • intransitive verb To enter or pass into something.
  • intransitive verb To have an effect or influence, especially on the mind or emotions.
  • intransitive verb To gain insight.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To pierce into or through; enter and make way into the inner or interior parts of: as, the rays of light penetrated the thick darkness of the cave.
  • To enter and affect deeply; influence; impress; hence, to enter and become part of; permeate: as, to be penetrated with a sense of gratitude.
  • To arrive at the inner contents or the meaning of; see through; discern; discover: as, to penetrate a mystery; to penetrate a design.
  • Synonyms Penetrate, Pierce, Perforate, Bore through, Transfix. Penetrate may mean no more than to make entrance into, and that slowly or with some difficulty, or it may have the meaning of pierce. Pierce means to penetrate deeply and quickly, and therefore presumably, although not necessarily, with some sharp instrument. (See Heb. iv. 12.) Perforate and bore through mean to make a hole through, the former generally expressing the making of a smaller hole, the latter expressing sustained labor or slowness: as, the book-worm perforates leather binding; the carpenter bores through a beam; a bullet perforates or pierces the body. To transfix is to pierce through, the instrument remaining in that which is transfixed: as, to transfix a bird with an arrow; to transfix a butterfly with a pin.
  • To enter by piercing; pass, as a piercing instrument; enter and make way; reach by piercing: literally or figuratively: usually followed by to or into.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • intransitive verb To pass; to make way; to pierce. Also used figuratively.
  • transitive verb To enter into; to make way into the interior of; to effect an entrance into; to pierce.
  • transitive verb To affect profoundly through the senses or feelings; to touch with feeling; to make sensible; to move deeply.
  • transitive verb To pierce into by the mind; to arrive at the inner contents or meaning of, as of a mysterious or difficult subject; to comprehend; to understand.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb Manage to enter into.
  • verb figuratively To achieve understanding despite (some obstacle thereto).
  • verb To insert a penis into an opening, such as a vagina or anus.
  • verb To infiltrate the enemy to gather intelligence.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • verb enter a group or organization in order to spy on the members
  • verb insert the penis into the vagina or anus of
  • verb come to understand
  • verb pass into or through, often by overcoming resistance
  • verb spread or diffuse through
  • verb make one's way deeper into or through
  • verb become clear or enter one's consciousness or emotions


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Latin penetrāre, penetrāt-, from penitus, deeply.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin penetratus, past participle of penetrare ("to put, set, or place within, enter, pierce, penetrate"), from penes ("within, with") + -trare (as in intrare ("to go in, enter"), from intra ("within")).


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