Definition of fathom in English:

fathom

Line breaks: fathom
Pronunciation: /ˈfað(ə)m
 
/

noun

  • A unit of length equal to six feet (1.8 metres), chiefly used in reference to the depth of water: sonar says that we’re in eighteen fathoms
    More example sentences
    • If your boat is in the water and cannot be trailered, move it offshore to waters over 200 fathoms deep as soon as a Tsunami Warning is declared.
    • He is still miles and fathoms and nautical miles and light years ahead of everyone else in baseball.
    • On March 23, 1875, 13 days after leaving Nares Harbor, soundings indicated a depth of 4,475 fathoms or about 27,000 feet.

verb

[with object] Back to top  
  • 2Measure the depth of (water): an attempt to fathom the ocean
    More example sentences
    • In the middle of this temple complex, there is an ancient pond, fed by the waters sprouting from its bed; it has been claimed that the depth of this pond has never been fathomed.
    Synonyms
    measure the depth of, sound, plumb, probe; gauge, estimate

Derivatives

fathomable

adjective
More example sentences
  • It was her view that you couldn't fathom policy until the policymakers were made fathomable.
  • Such developments may initially be unusable, only fathomable to geeks.
  • Less fathomable are his attempts to justify his growing disenchantment with the job.

Origin

Old English fæthm, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch vadem, vaam and German Faden 'six feet'. The original sense was 'something which embraces', (plural) 'the outstretched arms'; hence, a unit of measurement based on the span of the outstretched arms, later standardized to six feet.

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