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penetrating (adj.)

1630s, "touching the feelings intensely," figurative present-participle adjective from penetrate (v.). It was used earlier in a literal sense (early 15c.). The sense of "acute, discerning, quick to discover or recognize" is from 1670s. An earlier adjective was penetrative (late 14c., penetratif), in reference to medicines, from Medieval Latin penetrativus. Related: Penetratingly.

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Definitions of penetrating

penetrating (adj.)
having or demonstrating ability to recognize or draw fine distinctions;
penetrating insight
Synonyms: acute / discriminating / incisive / keen / knifelike / penetrative / piercing / sharp
penetrating (adj.)
tending to penetrate; having the power of entering or piercing;
a penetrating odor
a cold penetrating wind
Synonyms: penetrative
From wordnet.princeton.edu