verb (used with object), pen·e·trat·ed, pen·e·trat·ing.

  1. to pierce or pass into or through: The bullet penetrated the wall. The fog lights penetrated the mist.
  2. to enter the interior of: to penetrate a forest.
  3. to enter and diffuse itself through; permeate.
  4. to arrive at the truth or meaning of; understand; comprehend: to penetrate a mystery.
  5. to obtain a share of (a market): to penetrate the Canadian coffee market.
  6. to affect or impress (the mind or feelings) deeply.
  7. to extend influence, usually peacefully, into the affairs of (another country).

verb (used without object), pen·e·trat·ed, pen·e·trat·ing.

  1. to enter, reach, or pass through something, as by piercing: We penetrated to the interior of the Kasbah.
  2. to be diffused through something.
  3. to understand or read the meaning of something.
  4. to have a deep effect or impact on someone.


  1. to find or force a way into or through (something); pierce; enter
  2. to diffuse through (a substance); permeate
  3. (tr) to see throughtheir eyes could not penetrate the fog
  4. (tr) (of a man) to insert the penis into the vagina of (a woman)
  5. (tr) to grasp the meaning of (a principle, etc)
  6. (intr) to be understoodhis face lit up as the new idea penetrated

v.1520s, from Latin penetratus, past participle of penetrare “to put or get into, enter into,” related to penitus “within, inmost,” penus “innermost part of a temple, store of food,” penates “household gods.” Related: Penetrated; penetrating.

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