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  • WordNet 3.6
    • v fathom measure the depth of (a body of water) with a sounding line
    • v fathom come to understand
    • n fathom (mining) a unit of volume (equal to 6 cubic feet) used in measuring bodies of ore
    • n fathom a linear unit of measurement (equal to 6 feet) for water depth
    • ***
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • Fathom 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.
    • Fathom The measure or extant of one's capacity; depth, as of intellect; profundity; reach; penetration. "Another of his fathom they have none
      To lead their business."
    • Fathom To encompass with the arms extended or encircling; to measure by throwing the arms about; to span.
    • Fathom To measure by a sounding line; especially, to sound the depth of; to penetrate, measure, and comprehend; to get to the bottom of. "The page of life that was spread out before me seemed dull and commonplace, only because I had not fathomed its deeper import."
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n fathom 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 fathom Hence Mental reach or scope; penetration; the extent of capacity; depth of thought or contrivance.
    • fathom To encompass with the arms extended or encircling.
    • fathom To reach in depth by measurement in fathoms; sound; try the depth of; penetrate to or find the bottom or extent of.
    • fathom Hence To penetrate with the mind; comprehend.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Fathom fath′um a nautical measure=6 feet: depth:
    • v.t Fathom to try the depth of: to comprehend or get to the bottom of
    • n Fathom (Shak.) penetration
    • ***


  • Bible
    “But if it were I, I would appeal to God; I would lay my cause before Him. He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted. [Job 5:8-9]”


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
OE. fadme, faðme, AS. fæðm, fathom, the embracing arms; akin to OS. faðmos, the outstretched arms, D. vadem, vaam, fathom, OHG. fadom, fadum, G. faden, fathom, thread, Icel. faðmr, fathom, Sw. famn, Dan. favn,; cf. Gr. to spread out, outspread, flat, L. patere, to lie open, extend. Cf. Patent Petal
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
A.S. faethm; Dut. vadem, Ger. faden.


In literature:

As they rose, fathom by fathom, their progress seemed to grow maddeningly slower.
"Tom Swift and the Electronic Hydrolung" by Victor Appleton
Other things were happening of far greater moment that they could not fathom at all.
"An Apache Princess" by Charles King
You couldn't see it fifty fathoms away and then it would flash by you like a carrier pigeon.
"Curlie Carson Listens In" by Roy J. Snell
Then they went to look at the trees, and the oak had already shot up a hundred fathoms, and the fir-tree ten.
"The Hero of Esthonia and Other Studies in the Romantic Literature of That Country" by William Forsell Kirby
Then the lock burst in and the water, at seventy fathoms' pressure, hit the boat.
"Four-Day Planet" by Henry Beam Piper
Column H: Maximum depth of water in fathoms.
"The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 16, No. 97, November, 1865" by Various
The greatest depth of this inland sea is 200 fathoms, or 1,200 feet.
"The Handy Cyclopedia of Things Worth Knowing" by Joseph Triemens
A quarter of a mile in, we sounded a second time, and had forty-three fathoms.
"Left on Labrador" by Charles Asbury Stephens
She tried to fathom this small, white-haired, colorless judge upon whose fairness so much depended.
"Susan B. Anthony" by Alma Lutz
Ingots of gold sleep in the mine, till the explorer fathoms its depths and brings to light the hidden treasures.
"Ernest Linwood" by Caroline Lee Hentz
They tell me the York brings up always on forty fathoms.
"The Two Admirals" by J. Fenimore Cooper
The Baltic is very shallow, its maximum depth, south-east of the Landsort lighthouse, being 250 fathoms.
"From Pole to Pole" by Sven Anders Hedin
She suddenly felt a strong desire to fathom the mysterious stranger.
"Manasseh" by Maurus Jokai
O' course, folks know the wreck is down there, eight fathom down, lads.
"The Pirate Shark" by Elliott Whitney
I then sung out to Bob to give her a few fathoms more chain, and as he did so I hove the bottle overboard.
"For Treasure Bound" by Harry Collingwood
There are many rocks in the bay, with from one to three fathoms water, and within them from nine to ten.
"Journal of a Voyage to Brazil" by Maria Graham
They were not twelve fathoms from him, when a loud shriek escaped him, and, letting go the oar, he threw up his arms and sank from sight.
"The Three Admirals" by W.H.G. Kingston
Proceeding with the boats, we found the ship sunk in six fathoms of water at a spot Jackey and Tubbs pointed out.
"Peter Trawl" by W. H. G. Kingston
Each fathom is six feet long.
"The Land of the Long Night" by Paul du Chaillu
I could not fathom the man's mind, but that's the way it looked to me.
"John Gayther's Garden and the Stories Told Therein" by Frank R. Stockton

In poetry:

He said, "The poet fathoms, as he sings,
With eye and heart, the high
Pure influences of supernal things,
Which fly
"God Wrapt Him" by Alexander Anderson
O forty miles off Aberdeen
'Tis fifty fathoms deep,
And there lies gude Sir Patrick Spens,
Wi' the Scots lords at his feet.
"Sir Patrick Spens" by Henry Morley
O forty miles off Aberdeen,
'Tis fifty fathoms deep,
And there lies gude Sir Patrick Spens,
Wi' the Scots lords at his feet.
"Sir Patrick Spens" by Anonymous British
But I alone, and the murderer—
That dreadful thing did know,
How he lay in his sin, a murdered man,
A thousand fathom low.
"The Old Man's Story" by Mary Botham Howitt
All her idle gear decaying,
Not a soul to tend her wheel,
And weeds like Noah's whiskers swaying
Fathoms long below her keel.
"Doldrums: One Of Murphy's Yarns" by Cicely Fox Smith
If, for the tidal wave of life
Mistook a little ripple blue,
While fathoms deep below your line
The sea's lost treasures sleep for you;
"Congratulation" by Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward

In news:

New research sheds light on life at 90 fathoms.
Or a young child asks a question that you, in all of your wisdom and maturity, cannot begin to fathom the answer.
The young engineer I worked with couldn't fathom why I toiled in the hot sun surveying for a nitrogen skid.
While trying to fathom what's happening fishing-wise on the Kenai Peninsula this summer, I recalled one of my earliest fishing adventures, fishing in a mud puddle on the edge of the road near my house.
Sandusky a classic two-sided story line that players cannot fathom.
' I still can't fathom how she wasn't knocked out cold by the brutal punch, but now she is speaking out on the whole ordeal.
Valery Gergiev Genre: Program, Musical Distributor: NCM/Fathom, More2screen.
In fact, you'll need more than $4 million to even fathom purchasing any of these beauties.
It's a feeling that harried Americans cannot fathom, because in reality we are all worrying and hurrying ourselves into early graves.
9 shot on Christmas Eve outside Club Fathom.
With that troubling reality in mind, the decision to delay construction of dikes to protect Brandon is difficult to fathom.
To have four, 1000-point scorers on one basketball team is just completely hard to fathom.
It's hard to fathom, but a video game player with the right skills has the chance to become a pro race car driver.
Another answer is that the average man is not able to fathom the real motives that underlie national policies and cause national struggles.
Oak Park resident can't fathom reasoning behind decision.

In science:

However, we cannot be sure that we succeeded to completely fathom Kerov’s intention, and there is no doubt that his own exposition would be quite different.
Kerov's central limit theorem for the Plancherel measure on Young diagrams
In the case of backtracking they apply dominance rules to fathom search space.
Solving the Resource Constrained Project Scheduling Problem with Generalized Precedences by Lazy Clause Generation
Which cooperative mechanism then?: fathom the nature of the cooperative β process, we examined carefully the dynamics in our system on time scales of the order of the cage dynamics, i.e. for time scales of the order of unity in our re-scaled units.
The nature of the \beta-peak in the loss modulus of amorphous solids
It would be weird, or indeed comical(!), to even try to fathom what would the meaning of the notion of ‘singularity’ be in a purely ‘pointless’ and ‘space(tile)less’ algebraico-categorical setting like ours.
`Iconoclastic', Categorical Quantum Gravity
Thus there is clear enough fathoming of physical mechanisms for all alternatives of the γ − α martensitic transformation in iron-based alloys.
Physical nature of fcc-bcc martensitic transformation in iron based alloys
This issue can only be fathomed in actual applications.
The NLO multileg working group: summary report
In many situations, the structures are groups of more basic entities, which then leads to try to fathom what makes it a group, what is its inside, its outside, its frontier, and what makes them so.
Different goals in multiscale simulations and how to reach them
Alternatively, note that the exterior of the unknot is a solid torus S 1 × D2 and one can then fathom simple handle decompositions for this manifold; this will be made explicit soon.
A Second Order Algebraic Knot Concordance Group
As will be fathomed in the subsequent sections, it is an extremely tedious task4 that may require some efficient method of organization.
Pure spinor computation towards open string three-loop