American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. A unit of length equal to 6 feet (1.83 meters), used principally in the measurement and specification of marine depths.
- v. To penetrate to the meaning or nature of; comprehend.
- v. To determine the depth of; sound.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. Originally, the space to which a man may extend his arms; specifically, a measure of length containing 6 feet: used chiefly in nautical and mining measurements.
- n. Hence Mental reach or scope; penetration; the extent of capacity; depth of thought or contrivance.
- To encompass with the arms extended or encircling.
- To reach in depth by measurement in fathoms; sound; try the depth of; penetrate to or find the bottom or extent of.
- Hence To penetrate with the mind; comprehend.
- n. obsolete Grasp, envelopment, control.
- n. nautical A measure of length corresponding to the outstretched arms, standardised to six feet, now used mainly for measuring depths in seas or oceans.
- n. by extension Mental reach or scope; penetration; the extent of capacity; depth of thought or contrivance.
- v. transitive, archaic To encircle with outstretched arms, especially to take a measurement; to embrace.
- v. transitive To measure the depth of, take a sounding of.
- v. transitive, figuratively To get to the bottom of; to manage to comprehend (a problem etc.).
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. A measure of length, containing six feet; the space to which a man can extend his arms; -- used chiefly in measuring cables, cordage, and the depth of navigable water by soundings.
- n. rare The measure or extant of one's capacity; depth, as of intellect; profundity; reach; penetration.
- v. obsolete To encompass with the arms extended or encircling; to measure by throwing the arms about; to span.
- v. To measure by a sounding line; especially, to sound the depth of; to penetrate, measure, and comprehend; to get to the bottom of.
- v. measure the depth of (a body of water) with a sounding line
- n. a linear unit of measurement (equal to 6 feet) for water depth
- v. come to understand
- n. (mining) a unit of volume (equal to 6 cubic feet) used in measuring bodies of ore
- 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"). (Wiktionary)
- Middle English fathme, from Old English fæthm, outstretched arms. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“What I can not fathom is the support that progressive economists like Paul Krugman and Brad DeLong have shown for him throughout this crisis, and now for renomination.”
“What I fail to fathom is why accumulating capital in these small, family pools is in any way good for the economy and/or the GDP, measured as the number of economic exchanges.”
“What I find very hard to fathom is that the Clintons who lost fair and square continue to seek ways to undermine Obama.”
“There are enough loopholes to ensure Google still gets to choose its response based on “disproportionate technical effort” What I cannot fathom is why the Google, home of the brilliant minds insists on storing IP addresses.”
“The thing that's so fascinating and hard to fathom is how much he pushes himself to get it, to do it right.”
“But the effect was huge, almost too huge to fathom from a personal perspective.”
“A British diplomat out at San Francisco said that the reason Soviet foreign policy was so difficult to fathom is that it is twice as foreign as any other.”
“When we dried squash in the fall we strung the slices upon strings of twisted grass, each seven Indian fathoms long; an Indian fathom is the distance between a woman's two hands outstretched on either side.”
“Something else they can’t fathom is why more of the American people voted for an African-American male and fewer voted for a Caucasian male, and that over 40% of Obama’s votes came from Caucasians.”
“- I guess I’m naive, because the only thing I can fathom is that you do brain surgery while on top (this negates my initial trampoline conjecture) — frankenduf”
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