fathom

[fath-uhm]
noun, plural fathoms (especially collectively) fathom.
1.
a unit of length equal to six feet (1.8 meters): used chiefly in nautical measurements. Abbreviation: fath
verb (used with object)
2.
to measure the depth of by means of a sounding line; sound.
3.
to penetrate to the truth of; comprehend; understand: to fathom someone's motives.

Origin:
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

fathomable, adjective
fathomer, noun
unfathomable, adjective
unfathomed, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
fathom (ˈfæðəm)
 
n
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
 
vb
4.  to measure the depth of, esp with a sounding line; sound
5.  to penetrate (a mystery, problem, etc); discover the meaning of
 
[Old English fæthm; related to Old Frisian fethem outstretched arms, Old Norse fathmr embrace, Old High German fadum cubit, Latin patēre to gape]
 
'fathomable
 
adj
 
'fathomer
 
n

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

fathom
O.E. fæðm "length of the outstretched arm" (a measure of about six feet), also "arms, grasp," and, figuratively "power," from P.Gmc. *fathmaz "embrace" (cf. O.N. faðmr "embrace, bosom," O.S. fathmos "the outstretched arms," Du. vadem "a measure of six feet"), from PIE *pot-/*pet- denoting
"stretching out" (cf. Gk. petalon "leaf," L. patere "to be open"). The verb meaning of "take soundings" is c.1600; its figurative sense of "get to the bottom of, understand" is 1620s. Related: Fathomed; fathoming.

fathomable
1630s, figurative; 1690s, literal; from fathom + -able.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Easton
Bible Dictionary

Fathom definition


(Old A.S. faethm, "bosom," or the outstretched arms), a span of six feet (Acts 27:28). Gr. orguia (from orego, "I stretch"), the distance between the extremities of both arms fully stretched out.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Example sentences
One answer wouldn't have been feasible or even fathomable a decade ago.
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