- a unit of length equal to six feet (1.8 meters): used chiefly in nautical measurements. Abbreviation: fath
- to measure the depth of by means of a sounding line; sound.
- to penetrate to the truth of; comprehend; understand: to fathom someone's motives.
Origin of fathom
Examples from the Web for fathomable
Historical Examples of fathomable
But in every other sense, in all that touches the fathomable business of daylight, she has been a conspicuous success.The Open Secret of Ireland
T. M. Kettle
They are fathomable; for carried to a certain pitch of intensity they end in ecstasy or they end in death.
They are fathomable; for even in the souls of "the immortals" they are only instruments of life warring against death.
The twitching would disappear for a time for no fathomable reason, and reappear again.Tics and Their Treatment
- a unit of length equal to six feet (1.829 metres), used to measure depths of water
- mining a unit of volume usually equal to six cubic feet, used in measuring ore bodies
- forestry a unit of volume equal to six cubic feet, used for measuring timber
- to measure the depth of, esp with a sounding line; sound
- to penetrate (a mystery, problem, etc); discover the meaning of
Word Origin for fathom
Word Origin and History for fathomable
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."
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.