Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

penetrate - definition and synonyms

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

verb     penetrate pronunciation in British English
Word Forms
present tense
present participlepenetrating
past tensepenetrated
past participlepenetrated
  1. 1
    [intransitive/transitive] to get inside an object or body by getting through something

    A piece of glass had penetrated the skin.

    1. a.
      to get inside an area by getting past something that is intended to stop you

      One of them managed to penetrate airport security.

  2. 2
    [intransitive/transitive] to get through something into a place and be heard, seen, or felt by people in it

    Few sounds penetrate the thick walls.

  3. 3
    [intransitive/transitive] to reach or affect something such as a part of society

    one of the last cultures in the world that television has not penetrated

  4. 4
    [intransitive/transitive] to be noticed or understood by someone

    Their advice never even penetrated his consciousness.

    What she said didn’t penetrate until just now.

  5. 5
    [transitive] to become a member of a group in order to find out secret information about them
    Synonyms and related words
  6. 6
    [transitive] if a man penetrates someone, he puts his penis into his partner’s vagina or anus during sex
  • Facebook
  • Twitter


a lifestyle focussing on simple pleasures such as comfort and cosiness in the home, and spending time with friends and family

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


a form of location that involves the underwater detonation of a bomb which causes sound waves that are picked up by ships

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play