fathom


1fath·om

noun \ˈfa-thəm\

: 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
:  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>

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

avast, aweigh, flotsam, jib, keel, lee, port, starboard, stay

2fathom

verb

: to understand the reason for (something)

Full Definition of FATHOM

intransitive verb
1
:  probe
2
:  to take soundings
transitive verb
1
:  to measure by a sounding line
2
:  to penetrate and come to understand <couldn't fathom the problem>
fath·om·able \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>

First Known Use of FATHOM

1607

Related to FATHOM

Synonyms
2sound, plumb

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