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1

fathom

play
noun fath·om \ˈfa-thəm\

Simple Definition of fathom

  • : a unit of length equal to six feet (about 1.8 meters) used especially for measuring the depth of water

Full Definition of fathom

  1. 1 :  a unit of length equal to six feet (1.83 meters) used especially for measuring the depth of water —sometimes used in the singular when qualified by a number <five fathom deep>

  2. 2 :  comprehension

Examples of fathom

  1. The water here is five fathoms deep.



Origin of fathom

Middle English fadme, from Old English fæthm outstretched arms, length of the outstretched arms; akin to Old Norse fathmr fathom, Latin patēre to be open, pandere to spread out, Greek petannynai


First Known Use: before 12th century

Other Nautical Terms


2

fathom

verb fath·om

Simple Definition of fathom

  • : to understand the reason for (something)

Full Definition of fathom

  1. intransitive verb
  2. 1 :  probe

  3. 2 :  to take soundings

  4. transitive verb
  5. 1 :  to measure by a sounding line

  6. 2 :  to penetrate and come to understand <couldn't fathom the problem>

fath·om·able play \ˈfa-thə-mə-bəl\ adjective

Examples of fathom

  1. <the pilot had to continually fathom the river, which drought conditions had lowered to unprecedented levels>



1607

First Known Use of fathom

1607



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