To fathom something the end is to deduce miscellaneous or work-related something out. Regularly it is an affiliated process, entailing the assimilation and also sifting through of details from different sources. It can be a drawn-out procedure but suddenly the light dawns top top you. You have fathomed miscellaneous out.

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As a unit of measure a fathom is a resource of secret to me. As a evidenced landlubber ns hear nautical types talking glibly the fathoms and also I i can not use a clue how long that is. It comes from the Old English word fæðm and also dates from around the beginning of the nine century. Principally, the was used to describe an take on and, by expansion (ahem), the length of the outstretched arms. In crude terms, a fathom came to be the size from finger pointer to finger pointer of 2 outstretched arms.

The problem, that course, v a preeminence of thumb measurement like this is that no everyone’s arms space the same length. The variances that deviations that physique could carry to determining the length of a fathom led to inconsistencies. In 1728 Ephraim Chamber’s Cyclopaedia noted that “there are three type of Fathoms. The first, i m sorry is the of men of War, has six feet; The middling, or the of vendor Ships, five Feet, and also a half; and the tiny one, supplied in Flyts, Flyboats, and other Fishing-vessels, only five feet.” whether this relected the distinctions of stature in the matelots who sailed these various boats, I recognize not.

In an initiative to standardise the measurement, the british Admiralty decreed that a fathom was the tantamount of a thousandth that a nautical mile, making the 1.85 metres or about 6feet one inch. Recognising the man that relying on fathoms could cause, nautical charts offered feet to represent depths of less than 30 feet and fathoms for deeper waters. Maybe they had actually fathomed out that the require for precision only pertained in shallower waters.

From the 14th century onwards, the verb fathom was used to define the action of encircling someone or point with her arms and so, if you were embracing someone, you to be fathoming them. And by the 16th century fathoming out was a phrase provided to measure up something by embracing it v your arms. Explicate the effort of seven males to measure some large trees by putting their arms about them, Richard Eden created in The decades of the Newe Worlde, in 1555; “with theyr armes stretched additional were scarsely able as well fathame aboute.

It take it no great leap of imagination to usage the expression in a figurative sense. After ~ all, in order to understand something you required to gain your arms approximately all the details at her disposal. So, in 1625, in A New way to pay Old Debts, don’t us all need that, a comedy by Philip Massinger, we find; “The Statesman beleeues he fathomes/ the counsels of all Kingdomes ~ above the earth.

Fathoming out was used approximately the exact same time to describe a an approach deployed by seafarers to determine just how close they to be to the bottom that the sea. In sir William Brereton’s travels in Holland from 1634 we uncover this passage; “fathoming the depth the the water over versus the Brill, we uncovered it there…that we had not over two feet much more water than the delivery drew.

But because that landlubbers, Massinger’s figurative consumption won out.

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