Etymology
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penetrate (v.)

1520s, "to pierce into or through," from Latin penetratus, past participle of penetrare "to put or get into, enter into; cause to go into." This is related to penitus "within, inmost, interior," penetralis "penetrating; innermost;" penus "innermost part of a temple, store of food," penarius "used for storing food;" Penates "household gods."

All are from penus/penoris "food, provisions," from Proto-Italic *penos, from PIE *penos "food" (source also of Lithuanian penėti "to feed"). De Vann writes that "The semantic appurtenance to 'feed' is explained by Stüber as 'what one feeds with' ('food') > 'the place one feeds at' > 'interior, home'."

The figurative senses of "enter and affect deeply, influence, impress" and "gain intellectual or spiritual access" are from 1580s. Related: Penetrated; penetrating.

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Definitions of penetrate

penetrate (v.)
pass into or through, often by overcoming resistance;
The bullet penetrated her chest
Synonyms: perforate
penetrate (v.)
come to understand;
Synonyms: fathom / bottom
penetrate (v.)
become clear or enter one's consciousness or emotions;
she was penetrated with sorrow
Synonyms: click / get through / dawn / come home / get across / sink in / fall into place
penetrate (v.)
enter a group or organization in order to spy on the members;
Synonyms: infiltrate
penetrate (v.)
make one's way deeper into or through;
The hikers did not manage to penetrate the dense forest
penetrate (v.)
insert the penis into the vagina or anus of;
Did the molester penetrate the child?
penetrate (v.)
spread or diffuse through;
music penetrated the entire building
From wordnet.princeton.edu