Fathom meaning

făthəm
Frequency:
The definition of a fathom is a six foot length used to measure water depth.

An example of a fathom is a cable with markings every six feet which is used to find out the depth of a ocean.

noun
12
3
Fathom is defined as to understand completely, or to measure the depth of something.

An example of fathom is comprehending everything that caused something to happen.

An example of fathom is using a cable to find out the depth of an ocean canyon.

verb
7
1
To get to the bottom of; understand thoroughly.
verb
2
1
(by extension) Mental reach or scope; penetration; the extent of capacity; depth of thought or contrivance.
noun
2
2
To penetrate to the meaning or nature of; comprehend.
verb
1
0
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A unit of length used to measure the depth of water or the length of a nautical rope or cable, equal to 6 ft (1.8288 m)
noun
1
0
(archaic) To encircle with outstretched arms, especially to take a measurement; to embrace.
verb
1
0
To measure the depth of, take a sounding of.
verb
1
0
A unit of length equal to 6 feet (1.83 meters), used principally in the measurement and specification of marine depths.
noun
1
1
To determine the depth of; sound.
verb
1
1
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To measure the depth of; sound.
verb
1
1
(nautical) A measure of length corresponding to the outstretched arms, standardised to six feet, now used mainly for measuring depths in seas or oceans.
noun
1
1
(figuratively) To get to the bottom of; to manage to comprehend (a problem etc.).

I can't for the life of me fathom what this means.

verb
0
0

Origin of fathom

  • Middle English fathme from Old English fæthm outstretched arms petə- in Indo-European roots

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

  • From Middle English fathome, fadome, from Old English fæþm, fæþme (“outstretched or encircling arms, embrace, grasp, protection, interior, bosom, lap, breast, womb, fathom, cubit, power, expanse, surface”), from Proto-Germanic *faþmaz (“embrace”), from Proto-Indo-European *pet- (“to spread out, extend”). Cognate with Low German fadem, faem (“a cubit, thread”), Dutch vadem, vaam (“fathom”), German Faden (“thread, filament, fathom”), Danish favn (“embrace, fathom”), Swedish famn (“the arms, bosom, embrace”), Icelandic faðmur (“embrace”).

    From Wiktionary