What does fathom mean?

Definitions for fathomˈfæð əm

Here are all the possible meanings and translations of the word fathom.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. fathom, fthm(noun)

    a linear unit of measurement (equal to 6 feet) for water depth

  2. fathom, fthm(verb)

    (mining) a unit of volume (equal to 6 cubic feet) used in measuring bodies of ore

  3. penetrate, fathom, bottom(verb)

    come to understand

  4. fathom, sound(verb)

    measure the depth of (a body of water) with a sounding line


  1. fathom(Noun)

    Grasp, envelopment, control.

  2. fathom(Noun)

    A measure of length corresponding to the outstretched arms, standardised to six feet, now used mainly for measuring depths in seas or oceans.

  3. fathom(Noun)

    Mental reach or scope; penetration; the extent of capacity; depth of thought or contrivance.

  4. fathom(Verb)

    To encircle with outstretched arms, especially to take a measurement; to embrace.

  5. fathom(Verb)

    To measure the depth of, take a sounding of.

  6. fathom(Verb)

    To get to the bottom of; to manage to comprehend (a problem etc.).

    I can't for the life of me fathom what this means.

  7. Origin: From fathome, fadome, from fæþm, fæþme, from faþmaz, from pet-. Cognate with fadem, faem, vadem, vaam, Faden, favn, famn, faðmur.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Fathom(noun)

    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

  2. Fathom(noun)

    the measure or extant of one's capacity; depth, as of intellect; profundity; reach; penetration

  3. Fathom(verb)

    to encompass with the arms extended or encircling; to measure by throwing the arms about; to span

  4. Fathom(verb)

    the measure by a sounding line; especially, to sound the depth of; to penetrate, measure, and comprehend; to get to the bottom of

  5. Origin: [OE. fadme, fame, AS. fm fathom, the embracing arms; akin to OS. famos the outstretched arms, D. vadem, vaam, fathom, OHG. fadom, fadum, G. faden fathom, thread, Icel. famr fathom, Sw. famn, Dan. favn; cf. Gr. to spread out, outspread, flat, L. patere to lie open, extend. Cf. Patent, Petal.]


  1. Fathom

    A fathom = 1.8288 metres, is a unit of length in the imperial and the U.S. customary systems, used especially for measuring the depth of water. There are two yards in an imperial or U.S. fathom. Originally based on the distance between a man's outstretched arms, the size of a fathom has varied slightly depending on whether it was defined as a thousandth of an nautical mile or as a multiple of the imperial yard. Formerly, the term was used for any of several units of length varying around 5–5+¹⁄2 feet. The name derives from the Old English word fæðm, corresponding to the old Frisian word "fadem" meaning embracing arms or a pair of outstretched arms. In Middle English it was fathme. A cable length, based on the length of a ship's cable, has been variously reckoned as equal to 100 or 120 fathoms. At one time, a quarter meant one-fourth of a fathom. Abbreviations: f, fath, fm, fth, fthm.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Fathom

    fath′um, n. a nautical measure=6 feet: depth: (Shak.) penetration.—v.t. to try the depth of: to comprehend or get to the bottom of.—adjs. Fath′omable; Fath′omless.—n. Fath′om-line, a sailor's line and lead for taking soundings. [A.S. faethm; Dut. vadem, Ger. faden.]

The Nuttall Encyclopedia

  1. Fathom

    a measure of 6 ft. used in taking marine soundings, originally an Anglo-Saxon term for the distance stretched by a man's extended arms; is sometimes used in mining operations.


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of fathom in Chaldean Numerology is: 2

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of fathom in Pythagorean Numerology is: 9

Sample Sentences & Example Usage

  1. Mike Kisting:

    I can't fathom why a person would want to do that, he was lucky I wasn't there that day.

  2. Matt Fairchild:

    I don't want to hurt ever, i can't fathom the idea of being in pain and not having a way out.

  3. Brett Hull:

    Being productive at that age is a remarkable feat and it's hard to fathom that he could really do it.

  4. Joseph Cohen:

    I can't fathom that it would be so difficult to place a catheter line, it really sounds like it was a disorganized mess.

  5. Samantha Power:

    Efforts to deny justice only intensify the pain of the victims' families, who have already endured more than any of us can fathom.

Images & Illustrations of fathom

  1. fathomfathomfathom

Translations for fathom

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

  • سبر الغورArabic
  • клафтер, проумявам, фатом, разбирамBulgarian
  • comprendre, sondejar, braça, abraçarCatalan, Valencian
  • sáh, proniknout, porozumět do hloubkyCzech
  • fatte, favn, begribeDanish
  • Klafter, verstehen, umarmen, Faden, ergründen, loten, ausloten, begreifen, sondierenGerman
  • ahondar, abrazar, comprender, braza, profundizar, sondar, sondearSpanish
  • süldEstonian
  • syli, syleillä, luodata, käsittääFinnish
  • favnurFaroese
  • saisir, comprendre, brasseFrench
  • brazaGalician
  • kitalál, megért, öl, átölel, rájönHungarian
  • comprendere, braccio, capireItalian
  • hiroJapanese
  • ჩასწვდება, სწვდებაGeorgian
  • aronui, mārō, whangangaMāori
  • depaMalay
  • vademDutch
  • favnNorwegian
  • sążeńPolish
  • sondar, compreender, braçaPortuguese
  • înțelege, apuca, braț, pătrunde, îmbrățișa, măsura, sonda, fathomRomanian
  • расследовать, морская сажень, постигать, обхватить, понимать, измерять, делать промер лотом, выяснять, осознавать, фатом, исследовать, фадом, разузнаватьRussian
  • tr=vyamaSanskrit
  • хват, hvatSerbo-Croatian
  • siahaSlovak
  • objeti, izmeriti, dognati, seženjSlovene
  • omfamna, famna om, loda, famnSwedish
  • kulaçTurkish

Get even more translations for fathom »


Find a translation for the fathom definition in other languages:

Select another language:

Discuss these fathom definitions with the community:

Word of the Day

Would you like us to send you a FREE new word definition delivered to your inbox daily?

Please enter your email address:     


Use the citation below to add this definition to your bibliography:


"fathom." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2018. Web. 19 Feb. 2018. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/fathom>.

Are we missing a good definition for fathom? Don't keep it to yourself...

Nearby & related entries:

Alternative searches for fathom:

Thanks for your vote! We truly appreciate your support.