V2 Vocabulary Building Dictionary


verb, noun

Definition: (v.) 1. to deeply and completely understand something by penetrating its profound or mystifying nature; 2. to measure the depth of water; (n) 2. a nautical unit of length equal to 1.83 m (6ft), used for measuring water depth

Synonyms: (v.) ascertain, understand, penetrate, comprehend, divine, perceive, know

Antonyms: misunderstand

Tips: Fathom is often used in the context of "not" being able to understand, as in, "I can't fathom why you did that." Think, depth of understanding. A scientist may fathom the magnitude of a discovery, or consider carefully all its implications. Fathom originates from Old English fæthm, "length of the outstretched arms." This meaning is where the original nautical measurement originated. If you can't fathom something, you can't measure or understand it deeply.

Usage Examples:

Can you fathom what the philosopher is talking about? (comprehend, understand)

I cannot fathom why you would allow your children to play with a dog who has been known to attack and bite people. (understand, perceive)

I can't even begin to fathom what he was thinking when he wore bright red pants, suspenders, and a bowtie to the meeting--he looked ridiculous. (know, comprehend)

I can't fathom why someone would do something so awful. (comprehend, understand)

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