Definitions

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A wagon-load; a cart-load.
  • noun A load; weight; burden; mass.
  • noun An old unit of weight for lead, lime, and some other substances; a two-horse cart-load. A fother of lead varies from 19 1/2 to 22 1/2 hundredweight, each hundredweight being usually 120 pounds avoirdupois. At Néwcastle in England a fother is a third of a chaldron; and in American lead-mines the word is sometimes used for a short ton.
  • To place a sail or tarpaulin over, as a leak in a ship's hull, for the purpose of keeping the water out. In fathering a leak, rope-yarns, oakum, etc., are thickly stitched on the sail or tarpaulin.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To stop (a leak in a ship at sea) by drawing under its bottom a thrummed sail, so that the pressure of the water may force it into the crack.
  • noun obsolete A wagonload; a load of any sort.
  • noun See Fodder, a unit of weight.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun obsolete a wagonload; a load of any sort.
  • noun an old English measure of lead or other metals, usually containing 19.5 hundredweight; a fodder.
  • noun dialect Food for animals.
  • verb dialect To feed animals (with fother).
  • verb dated, nautical To stop a leak with oakum or old rope (often by drawing a sail under the hull).

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old Norse fóðr, but see Old English fōdor, from Proto-Germanic *fōdran (compare Dutch voer 'pasture, fodder', German Futter 'feed', Swedish foder), from *fōda 'food', from Proto-Indo-European *pat- 'to feed'. More at food.

Examples

  • But you - you have become what you are thanks to your fother-in-law.

    Global Voices in English » Kazakhstan: Turmoil Royale

  • And avril lavigne sings the main song because she wrote this fricken movie fother muckers.

    Alice in Wonderland Soundtracks Revealed | /Film

  • Mostly, that's due to fother nations having caught up.

    Gerald Bracey: Falling Behind -- or Just the Old Bait-and-Switch?

  • The good fother with the twingling in his eye will always have cakes in his pocket to bethroat us with for our allmichael good.

    Finnegans Wake

  • By the way, I experience a similar sort of mishearing where I live as people from other parts of Canada and even of my province think that we say the "a" in "father" like "lather" whereas to me it sounds like others say "fother".

    languagehat.com: VARIETIES OF ENGLISH.

  • On their fifth day, when the ship was riding so low she seemed sure to founder, Cochrane ordered another fother made, but this he ordered big enough to straddle half the starboard hull.

    Sharpe's Devil

  • The explosion on board the whaler had driven in a section of the frigate's hull, but once the canvas fother was in place the pumps at last could begin to win the battle.

    Sharpe's Devil

  • The explosion on board the whaler had driven in a section of the frigate's hull, but once the canvas fother was in place the pumps at last could begin to win the battle.

    Sharpe's Devil

  • On their fifth day, when the ship was riding so low she seemed sure to founder, Cochrane ordered another fother made, but this he ordered big enough to straddle half the starboard hull.

    Sharpe's Devil

  • In the same way, it is possible to become an expert on the apparatus of the old-time naval world — backstays and top-gallants, twenty-four pounders and hardtack — without having the faintest idea how to fire a gun, reef a sail, or fother a ship's bottom.

    In Which We Serve

Comments

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  • "To seal a leak by lowering a sail over the side of the ship and positioning it to be sucked into the hole by the rushing sea."

    --A Sea of Words, 202

    March 11, 2008

  • I know some people who could do with a little fothering.

    March 11, 2008

  • Her garden relentlessly draws her.
    It's care is her joy, not a bother.
    It is all-consuming
    From planting to blooming
    And veg gathered in by the fother.

    August 26, 2015