Dictionary.com
definitions
  • synonyms

fathom

[fath-uh m]
See more synonyms for fathom on Thesaurus.com
noun, plural fath·oms, (especially collectively) fath·om.
  1. a unit of length equal to six feet (1.8 meters): used chiefly in nautical measurements. Abbreviation: fath
Show More
verb (used with object)
  1. to measure the depth of by means of a sounding line; sound.
  2. to penetrate to the truth of; comprehend; understand: to fathom someone's motives.
Show More

Origin of fathom

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 formsfath·om·a·ble, adjectivefath·om·er, nounun·fath·om·a·ble, adjectiveun·fath·omed, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

pinpointappreciateplumbcomprehendunravelgrasppenetratedivinesoundpierceprobegetapprehendrecognizedigperceivecatchgaugehavemeasure

Examples from the Web for fathomed

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • He can afford not to be fathomed for every little pearl that lies at the bottom of his ocean.

    A Dish Of Orts

    George MacDonald

  • He had always believed he had long since fathomed the depths of his wild friend.

  • The point I have not fathomed is the means by which the ‘goods’ are brought into the country.

  • By this time I had fathomed all the depths of Madame d'Urfe's character.

    The Memoires of Casanova, Complete

    Jacques Casanova de Seingalt

  • He had fathomed the true state of affairs between Archie and Hope.

    Teddy: Her Book

    Anna Chapin Ray


British Dictionary definitions for fathomed

fathom

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
Show More
verb (tr)
  1. to measure the depth of, esp with a sounding line; sound
  2. to penetrate (a mystery, problem, etc); discover the meaning of
Show More
Derived Formsfathomable, adjectivefathomer, 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

Word Origin and History for fathomed

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."

Show More

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.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper