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See also: penetrãte
From Latin penētrātus, past participle of penētrō (“to put, set, or place within, enter, pierce, penetrate”), from penes (“within, with”) by analogy to intrō (“to go in, enter”).
penetrate (third-person singular simple present penetrates, present participle penetrating, simple past and past participle penetrated)
- To enter into; to make way into the interior of; to pierce.
- Light penetrates darkness.
- 1879, Th Du Moncel, The Telephone, the Microphone and the Phonograph, Harper, page 166:
- He takes the prepared charcoal used by artists, brings it to a white heat, and suddenly plunges it in a bath of mercury, of which the globules instantly penetrate the pores of charcoal, and may be said to metallize it.
- (figuratively) To achieve understanding of, despite some obstacle; to comprehend; to understand.
- I could not penetrate Burke's opaque rhetoric.
- To affect profoundly through the senses or feelings; to move deeply.
- to penetrate one's heart with pity
- 1867, Matthew Arnold, On the Study of Celtic Literature:
- The translator of Homer should penetrate himself with a sense of the plainness and directness of Homer's style.
- 1611 April (first recorded performance), William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Cymbeline”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act II, scene iii]:
- I am advised to give her music o' mornings; they say it will penetrate
- To infiltrate an enemy to gather intelligence.
- To insert the penis into an opening, such as a vagina, mouth or anus.
- 2005, Patricia Vettel-Becker, Shooting from the hip: photography, masculinity, and postwar America:
- His weapons have been destroyed; his body has been or can be penetrated. In other words, he is rapable.
- a male elephant comes up and penetrates the female
- (chess) To move a piece past the defending pieces of one's opponent.
The sexual sense is a modern innovation rarely attested in older writing. In modern usage, the unaccompanied word penetrate and its derivatives often refer to sexual penetration, outside of certain set phrases such as market penetration.
insert the penis into an opening, such as a vagina
- “penetrate”, in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, Springfield, Mass.: G. & C. Merriam, 1913, →OCLC.
- “penetrate”, in The Century Dictionary […], New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911, →OCLC.
- penetrate at OneLook Dictionary Search
- present adverbial passive participle of penetri
- inflection of penetrare:
penetrate f pl
- second-person singular voseo imperative of penetrar combined with te
- English terms derived from Proto-Indo-European
- English terms derived from the Proto-Indo-European root *pen-
- English terms derived from Latin
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