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

  • adj. Able or seeming to penetrate: The penetrating odor of garlic soon filled the entire apartment.
  • adj. Keenly perceptive or understanding; acute: The lecture provided penetrating insight into foreign affairs.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. able to pierce or penetrate
  • adj. demonstrating acute or keen understanding
  • v. Present participle of penetrate.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Having the power of entering, piercing, or pervading; sharp; subtile; penetrative.
  • adj. Acute; discerning; sagacious; quick to discover.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Having the power of passing into or through (something); sharp; subtile: as, a penetrating odor.
  • Acute; discerning; quick to discover or recognize: as, a penetrating mind.

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

  • adj. having or demonstrating ability to recognize or draw fine distinctions
  • adj. tending to penetrate; having the power of entering or piercing


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • "We would train Navy doctors and nurses and corpsmen with experience in gunshot wounds before they went to war, because most Navy personnel have no experience in what we call penetrating trauma," he said.

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  • That's what makes Google so intriguing, and a worthy subject for New Yorker writer Ken Auletta's 11th book, Googled: The End of the World As We Know It. Unlike Curse, which treats moguls with derision, Auletta's more interested in penetrating the often secretive world of the business elite and telling the stories with skill, intelligence and respect.

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  • * RF Countersurveillance/A primer on monitoring police and security frequencies using a trunk-tracking scanner, and how it can assist in penetrating a targetMo

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  • Its success in penetrating the mainstream culture is evident in the pundit shows on most of the networks and cable TV, and in the columns of The Washington Post and The New York Times.

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  • I believe the first key to success in penetrating a culture is simply this — have a goal that is clear, written and most of all has milestones that can be achieved.

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  • He is a news reporter for BanglaVision, one of the main news channels, who made his name penetrating the thickets of the Islamist underground.

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  • As someone who understands memes and how they can be useful in penetrating thick skulls, I can at least appreciate the sentiments behind the aims of this commercial.

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  • The difference between medics and most other people, however, is: like lawyers, doctors and other medical workers generally practice behind near-impenetrable professional screens and when complaints succeed in penetrating them, more often than not, other doctors (or lawyers) sitting on boards dispense ‘punishment’.

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  • A man named Mario Valdés, today widely believed to have been a federal spy, succeeded in penetrating the rebel ranks.

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  • Right now, a high dollar, steep borrowing costs and inflation have confounded their success in penetrating foreign markets.

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