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fathom

[fath -uh m] /ˈfæð əm/
noun, plural fathoms (especially collectively) fathom.
1.
a unit of length equal to six feet (1.8 meters): used chiefly in nautical measurements.
Abbreviation: fath.
verb (used with object)
2.
to measure the depth of by means of a sounding line; sound.
3.
to penetrate to the truth of; comprehend; understand:
to fathom someone's motives.
Origin of fathom
900
before 900; Middle English fathme, Old English fæthm span of outstretched arms; cognate with German Faden six-foot measure, Old Norse fathmr; akin to patent
Related forms
fathomable, adjective
fathomer, noun
unfathomable, adjective
unfathomed, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for unfathomed
Historical Examples
  • Here is the natural—but there is the vast, unfathomed supernatural.

  • No man so amphibious has since arisen through the unfathomed tide of time.

    Mary Anerley R. D. Blackmore
  • The stream begins in mystery, and ends in unfathomed darkness.

  • There was only one thought which could set him aflame, and that was the thought of the unfathomed might of man.

    Emerson and Other Essays John Jay Chapman
  • What brought him to bustling, sunny Naples, was an unfathomed mystery.

    A Love Story A Bushman
  • No understanding of history is adequate which has no place for the unfathomed in personality.

    Edward Caldwell Moore Edward Moore
  • Then I spoke of the modern and real immensity of the unfathomed Skies.

    Trivia Logan Pearsall Smith
  • There are deeps, unfathomed deeps, of calm rest and peace, down in that ocean's undisturbed recesses.

  • Their spirits come up from the unfathomed deeps of the great river and call their mortality from graves.

  • Everything is in blossom, and, in this unfathomed recess, a botanist might find sufficient material to occupy him for a lifetime.

    From the Caves and Jungles of Hindostan Helena Pretrovna Blavatsky
British Dictionary definitions for unfathomed

fathom

/ˈfæðəm/
noun
1.
a unit of length equal to six feet (1.829 metres), used to measure depths of water
2.
(mining) a unit of volume usually equal to six cubic feet, used in measuring ore bodies
3.
(forestry) a unit of volume equal to six cubic feet, used for measuring timber
verb (transitive)
4.
to measure the depth of, esp with a sounding line; sound
5.
to penetrate (a mystery, problem, etc); discover the meaning of
Derived Forms
fathomable, adjective
fathomer, noun
Word Origin
Old English fæthm; related to Old Frisian fethem outstretched arms, Old Norse fathmr embrace, Old High German fadum cubit, Latin patēre to gape
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for unfathomed
adj.

1620s, from un- (1) "not" + past participle of fathom.

fathom

n.

Old English fæðm "length of the outstretched arm" (a measure of about six feet), also "arms, grasp," and, figuratively "power," from Proto-Germanic *fathmaz "embrace" (cf. Old Norse faðmr "embrace, bosom," Old Saxon fathmos "the outstretched arms," Dutch vadem "a measure of six feet"), from PIE *pot(e)-mo-, from root *pete- "to spread, stretch out" (see pace (n.)). There are apparent cognates in Old Frisian fethem, German faden "thread," which OED explains by reference to "spreading out."

fathom

v.

Old English fæðmian "to embrace, surround, envelop;" see fathom (n.). The meaning "take soundings" is from c.1600; its figurative sense of "get to the bottom of, understand" is 1620s. Related: Fathomed; fathoming.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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