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

  • adjective Able or seeming to penetrate.
  • adjective Keenly perceptive or understanding; acute.

from The Century Dictionary.

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

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

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

  • adjective able to pierce or penetrate
  • adjective demonstrating acute or keen understanding
  • verb Present participle of penetrate.

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

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


Sorry, no etymologies found.


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  • "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.

    The Seattle Times 2011

  • 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.

    What's the future of media? Three books try to sort it out 2010

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

    Boing Boing 2009

  • 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.

    HillSec? - Swampland - 2008

  • 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.

    Lessons Learned 2007

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

    Johann Hari: A Journey Across the Ground Zero of Global Warming 2008

  • 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.

    Think Progress » “Don’t Suicide Bomb.” 2006

  • 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’.

    Doctors vs Patients: online 2005

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

    Cristero Rebellion: part 2: the combat phase 1997

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

    Cristero Rebellion: part 2: the combat phase 1997


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