Lilacs in our backyard
Lilacs in our backyard (Photo credit: gwilmore (I HATE THE NEW LAYOUT!))



  • to diffuse through or penetrate (something)


 to pass through the pores or interstices of

The scent of lilacs permeated the air as soon as the bushes bloomed outside my window.

Arnold Arboretum, 15 May 2010: Lilac (dogwood?...
Arnold Arboretum, 15 May 2010: Lilac (dogwood?) flowers blooming in late spring afternoon sunlight (Photo credit: Chris Devers)


“‘Game Over.’ There’s no element of video-game culture that has so thoroughly permeated the mainstream. Everyone knows what it means: You screwed up or you caught a bad break. Better luck next time.” — From an article by Jesse Singal in The Boston Globe, July 14, 2013


    The Boston Globe
    The Boston Globe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s no surprise that “permeate” means “to pass through” something—it was borrowed into English in the mid-17th century from Latin “permeatus,” which comes from the prefix “per” (“through”) and “meare,” meaning “to go” or “to pass.” “Meare” itself comes from an ancient root that may have also led to Middle Welsh and Czech words meaning “to go” and “to pass,” respectively. Other descendants of “meare” in English include “permeative,” “permeable,” “meatus” (“a natural body passage”), and the relatively rare “irremeable” (“offering no possibility of return”).






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