Definition of penetrating in US English:



  • 1Able to make a way through or into something.

    ‘the problem of penetrating damp’
    ‘the penetrating scents of pine and eucalyptus’
    • ‘It was really cold, with a sneaky, penetrating breeze to provide an extra wind-chill.’
    • ‘Acid or chemical stain is a penetrating stain that chemically etches the color into the concrete for a permanent marble like finish.’
    • ‘Nor is it contended that it results from rising damp or penetrating damp.’
    • ‘Driven by a penetrating east wind, it drifted until every hollow and depression was filled and the landscape assumed the appearance of a vast white prairie.’
    • ‘I started wondering about this penetrating chemical presence when some vile organic substance bubbled up from a clogged pipe in our basement floor the day after we moved in.’
    • ‘The mechanisms often seize through lack of use, but with the wiper motor removed - a relatively simple task - it's possible to get to the problem areas and apply penetrating oil.’
    • ‘I rushed into the living room to see poor Graham getting well and truly damp in a fine, penetrating rain.’
    • ‘More often she presents her men and women with such a penetrating, somber empathy that a deliberate affective claustrophobia seizes the reader.’
    • ‘The puma nodded once and stepped outside into the penetrating cold.’
    • ‘It's turned suddenly rather cold, in that penetrating way that gets into the bones and takes an awful lot of shifting.’
    • ‘Infrared is particularly effective for penetrating thick, murky regions of space and revealing what lies beyond.’
    • ‘No longer will your home be plagued by the penetrating effervescence that periodically resounds from the smallest room in the house.’
    • ‘The peninsula is sandwiched between two sea lochs, Loch Fyne to the west and Loch Long to the east - the latter penetrating inland from the Firth of Clyde.’
    • ‘A nasty, penetrating wind, and the sting of snizzle in the air once more.’
    • ‘As I stood outside the store, battered by the merciless, penetrating wind, I was reminded of days when I'd wear two pairs of pyjamas under my uniform in a vain attempt to keep warm.’
    • ‘Although alpha particles are not a very penetrating form of radiation, when inside the body they can do significant harm to any living cells they happen to pass through.’
    • ‘The sound system rolls out bass like a living beast, penetrating flesh and rattling the ribs beneath.’
    • ‘We're looking for ways of penetrating that economic community in an economic fashion.’
    • ‘He has a low, soulful voice with penetrating anger and smarts.’
    • ‘As it happens, she plays a fierce doubles game, with a steady serve, a sure overhead, penetrating volleys and an occasional blazing return of serve.’
    pungent, pervasive, strong, powerful, suffocating, stifling
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    1. 1.1 (of a voice or sound) clearly heard through or above other sounds.
      ‘a single penetrating whistle’
      • ‘He created music of penetrating sadness and beauty, and with only four solo albums released in his career, he had much more to offer.’
      • ‘In an instant, he is there once more, with his familiar, intense, penetrating, braying sound.’
      • ‘Simplistic chord structures and things just very impressive in the way that a lot of old heavy metal music is very penetrating and domineering and drowns things out.’
      • ‘Delivering six full songs and other song fragments, her penetrating chest voice and her haunting ornaments in piquant modes were simply stunning.’
      • ‘The penetrating whine of the fighter-bombers and the blast of the missiles overwhelm my brain, robbing me of both understanding and psyche.’
      • ‘The horns are very penetrating and to many it is a public nuisance.’
      • ‘Some of these songs have a varying beat and indications of some intelligent musicianship, not like the penetrating bass that thunders out from cars and flats wherever you go.’
      • ‘Opening her mouth Lula bellowed a penetrating snarl as her fist drove into the wall hammering a hole through it.’
      • ‘The wooden door burst open as if a bomb exploded behind it, the sound penetrating through the already deafening silence.’
      • ‘Tim sat upright at the penetrating noise and flipped in his hammock.’
      • ‘Its penetrating tone could carry far and rise above the fracas.’
      shrill, strident, piercing, carrying, clearly audible, loud, strong, high, high-pitched, piping, ear-piercing, ear-splitting, screechy, intrusive
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    2. 1.2 (of a person's eyes or expression) reflecting an apparent ability to see into the mind of the person being looked at; piercingly intense.
      ‘attempting to avoid her penetrating gaze’
      • ‘I looked at the doctor with penetrating eyes and declared, ‘I'll have this baby by midnight!’’
      • ‘Or maybe I'm looking at this with a much more penetrating eye than is needed.’
      • ‘I've never seen a child with such cold, penetrating eyes.’
      • ‘He wore a long, rough-looking, black cloak and looked out at you from under his hood with deep brown, penetrating eyes.’
      • ‘He was fairly short, a trifle rotund, with dark penetrating eyes that had a way of roving mercurially over objects under surveillance.’
      • ‘At her mother's penetrating stare, she muttered, ‘sorry’ and inhaled deeply.’
      • ‘He was immediately distinguished by his diminutive figure, extremely long white beard, and dark, penetrating eyes.’
      • ‘Her penetrating eyes landed on her small, black school bag.’
      • ‘His hair is a light brown, with very penetrating eyes, and a slightly brooding look.’
      • ‘Above all, a viewer is made very conscious of the penetrating power of the artist's eyes as he stares into the mirror.’
      • ‘There were no secrets that could hide from his penetrating eyes.’
      • ‘Bobby peered into those pale, penetrating eyes, sort of shrugged and gave her a feeble chipmunk smile.’
      • ‘He stared at her, his piercing, penetrating gaze shooting right through her, reading her like a book.’
      • ‘They tend to feel warm, have somewhat oily skin, penetrating eyes, and sharp features.’
      • ‘Only at nights did he fear the penetrating eyes of his wife.’
      • ‘One of the men was clearly a young Bill, with the same penetrating eyes and subdued smile.’
      • ‘They call him a nobleman, but I knew that you, who see people so clearly with your penetrating eyes, would see him for what he was.’
      • ‘Her penetrating eyes moved to the two siblings, who apparently caught some hidden meaning that Evelyn didn't at watching the elder's haunting gaze.’
      • ‘I tried very hard that day, but I could not hear what she heard in his voice nor see what she saw in his starkly penetrating eyes.’
      • ‘The flames of the many candles were mirrored in his deep, penetrating eyes.’
      observant, searching, intent, alert, shrewd, perceptive, probing, piercing, sharp, keen
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    3. 1.3 Having or showing clear insight.
      ‘the students asked some penetrating questions’
      • ‘You have to be open to a penetrating insight deeply imbedded in the stuff of language.’
      • ‘It is not a pedagogical treatise, it is the reflections of an artist upon art in aphorisms of penetrating insight, ready wit, and profound wisdom.’
      • ‘He has, with sheer penetrating insight, portrayed the decadent values and human failings of his times in simple but effective words.’
      • ‘He or she allows employees to think for themselves by encouraging them to show initiative, to think critically, to ask penetrating questions about their work.’
      • ‘And it's not quite the penetrating insight into the human condition it thinks it is, either.’
      • ‘By depending on the religious inclination of the general public he has evinced extremely penetrating insight.’
      • ‘He had not expected such a penetrating question so quickly.’
      • ‘And I asked him penetrating questions everybody told me not to ask him because that is my nature.’
      • ‘Note the dramatic narrative and implicit autobiography that emerge from this penetrating insight.’
      • ‘He had both the subtle mind of the metaphysician and the penetrating insight of the disillusioned moralist.’
      • ‘How could a penetrating or insightful script emerge from such a process, which is more than anything else the working out of different financial and corporate arrangements?’
      • ‘His penetrating insights into aspects of health policy during the 1950s and 1960s are unsurpassed.’
      • ‘Expert adversaries, who have the right to receive public answers to their most penetrating questions, police the scientific method.’
      • ‘The book ends by posing and answering a series of lucid and penetrating questions that are aimed at about the level of undergraduates and informed general readers.’
      • ‘Instead, he is most often regarded as a man of penetrating insight.’
      • ‘And they asked these kind of penetrating questions that make you understand they really know what's going on.’
      • ‘As with all aggregate health care data, these statistics were not designed to answer the most penetrating questions.’
      • ‘To several cohorts of students in Social Studies 10, I can only say that I learned more from your penetrating questions than I probably ever taught you in tutorial.’
      • ‘My discovery, disconcerting though it was, gave me a penetrating insight into style.’
      • ‘What is this penetrating insight that leads us to the direct experience of emptiness?’
      perceptive, insightful, keen, sharp, sharp-witted, quick-witted, intelligent, clever, smart, incisive, piercing, knife-like, razor-edged, trenchant, astute, shrewd, subtle, quick, ready, clear, acute, discriminating, percipient, perspicacious, discerning, sensitive, thoughtful, penetrative, deep, profound
      enquiring, searching, sharp, incisive, probing, deep, inquisitive, analytic, in-depth
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