1 enter, go or pass through or into, pierce, bore (into), lance, spear, go through or into, probe, stab, puncture, perforate, drill:
The shell penetrated the tank's heavy armour.
2 permeate, diffuse, suffuse, pervade, filter or seep through, percolate through:
The soothing balm penetrated my aching body and I relaxed into a deep sleep
3 reach, get to, get at, touch, affect, hit, strike:
Her cruel words penetrated the darkest recesses of my soul.
4 sink in, be absorbed, be understood, register, come or get through, become clear, come across, be realized, Colloq soak in, seep in:
It took a while for it to penetrate that she did not wish to see him again
5 understand, sense, become aware or conscious of, see (through), gain insight (in)to, discern, uncover, discover, find (out), comprehend, grasp, work out, unravel, fathom, perceive, Colloq get, figure out, dig, Brit suss out:
Will we ever penetrate all of nature's secrets?
deep, deeply, far
caves penetrating deep into the hills
| fully, totally | hardly
The sunlight hardly penetrated the inner room.
| quickly | slowly
The news slowly penetrated his consciousness.
| easily, readily
These so-called secret societies were easily penetrated by intelligence agents.
VERB + PENETRATE
be able to, can/could | be difficult to | seem to
The cold seemed to penetrate his bones.
| fail to | allow sth to
Cut two slashes on each side of the fish to allow heat to penetrate.
It is not yet known how deeply the radiation has penetrated into the soil.
The light could not penetrate through the thick curtains.
The dust had penetrated to all corners of the room.
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