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pen·e·trate / ˈpeniˌtrāt/ • v. [tr.] succeed in forcing a way into or through (a thing): the shrapnel had penetrated his head and chest| [intr.] tunnels that penetrate deep into the earth's core. ∎  (of a man) insert the penis into the vagina or anus of (a sexual partner). ∎  infiltrate (an enemy group or rival organization) in order to spy on it: the U.S. media had been penetrated by Soviet stooges. ∎  (of a company) begin to sell its products in (a particular market or area): Honda has succeeded in penetrating Western motorcycle markets. ∎  succeed in understanding or gaining insight into (something complex or mysterious): a magician who seemed to have penetrated the mysteries of nature. ∎  [intr.] be fully understood or realized by someone: as his words penetrated, she saw a mental picture of him with Dawn.DERIVATIVES: pen·e·tra·bil·i·ty / ˌpenitrəˈbilitē/ n.pen·e·tra·ble / -trəbəl/ adj.ORIGIN: mid 16th cent.: from Latin penetrat- ‘placed or gone into,’ from the verb penetrare; related to penitus ‘inner.’