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Fathom   /fˈæðəm/   Listen
Fathom

verb
(past & past part. fathomed; pres. part. fathoming)
1.
Come to understand.  Synonyms: bottom, penetrate.
2.
Measure the depth of (a body of water) with a sounding line.  Synonym: sound.






WordNet 3.0 © 2010 Princeton University








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"Fathom" Quotes from Famous Books



... match a ship against a fort with success, it was necessary to get as close as possible, and overpower it with weight of metal. After taking the necessary soundings, on the 2nd April he stood in to four-fathom water, taking with him the Viper and Triumph, and bombarded Severndroog fort. The Mahratta fleet gave no assistance, so the Swallow was detached to guard the southern entrance. All day long the cannonade continued, till a heavy swell setting ...
— The Pirates of Malabar, and An Englishwoman in India Two Hundred Years Ago • John Biddulph

... sea; and Franz never planted his feet till he had first ascertained the nature of the surface with his pole. Some of these fissures are of an amazing depth, and, taking out my watch, I tried to fathom one of them by dropping large fragments of granite; and calculating by the time that elapsed before reaching the bottom, we judged it to be ...
— Scenes in Switzerland • American Tract Society

... fat oxen should himself be fat;" Who sings for nobles, he should noble be. There's no non sequitur, I think, in that, And this is logic plain as a, b, c. Now, Hector Stuart, you're a Scottish prince, If right you fathom your descent—that fall From grace; and since you have no peers, and since You have no kind of nobleness at all, 'Twere better to sing little, lest you wince When made by heartless critics to sing small. And ...
— Black Beetles in Amber • Ambrose Bierce

... silence we become conscious of "that something" which transcends thought and which uses thought as a medium for expression. Many have glimpses of "that something," but few ever reach the state where the mind is steady enough to fathom these depths. Silent, concentrated thought is more potent than spoken words, for speech distracts from the focusing power of the mind by drawing more and more attention ...
— The Power of Concentration • Theron Q. Dumont

... is an old one, as you may see by the looks of it and the courses marked on it from the Cape of Good Hope," replied the captain, looking at the young officer, to fathom his meaning. "I put all my charts on board of the Guardian-Mother when we sailed for Bermuda the first time. If I ever had the blue book of which you speak, I haven't it now; and I forget ...
— Across India - Or, Live Boys in the Far East • Oliver Optic

... scramblers—could I once more hear those anxious shrieks of yours—and the delicious Thank God, we are safe, which always followed when the topmost stair, conquered, let in the first light of the whole cheerful theatre down beneath us—I know not the fathom line that ever touched a descent so deep as I would be willing to bury more wealth in than Croesus had, or the great Jew R—— is supposed to have, to purchase it. And now do just look at that merry little Chinese waiter holding an umbrella, big enough for a bed-tester, over the head ...
— The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb, Volume 2 • Charles Lamb

... customer, whose departure was now announced with the same boisterous alacrity as his arrival by the shrill-toned bell—"I wad like, for's father's sake, honest man! to thraw Gibbie's lug. That likin' for dirt I canna fathom ...
— Sir Gibbie • George MacDonald

... pour seawater on them till the particles of salt are well separated, and pass with the water into a vessel placed below to receive them. This water, now strongly impregnated, is boiled till the salt adheres in a thick crust to the bottom and sides of the vessel. In burning a square fathom of firewood a skilful person procures about five gallons of salt. What is thus made has so considerable a mixture of the salt of the wood that it soon dissolves, and cannot be carried far into the country. The coarsest ...
— The History of Sumatra - Containing An Account Of The Government, Laws, Customs And - Manners Of The Native Inhabitants • William Marsden

... to tell the half of our adventures. We lost five or six fish by their sinking before we could get them made fast to the ship, and one or two bolted so fast that they broke loose and carried away a number of harpoons and many a fathom of line. But such misfortunes were what we had to look for. Every whaler meets with similar changes of luck, and we did not expect to fare differently from our neighbours. These things did not cause us much regret beyond the time of their occurrence. But it was far otherwise with the loss that ...
— Fighting the Whales • R. M. Ballantyne

... and gave it an admonitory shake. "My dear lad, don't be a fool!" he said, with slow force. "You're consuming your own happiness—and hers too. You can't measure a woman's feelings like that. They are immeasurable. You can't even begin to fathom a woman's restraint—a woman's reserve. How can she offer when you are always demanding? As to her love, it is probably as infinitely great, as infinitely deep, as infinitely selfless, as yours is passionate, and fierce and insatiable. There are big possibilities ...
— The Bars of Iron • Ethel May Dell

... latitude of 26 degrees south we saw an opening, and ran in, hoping to find a harbour there; but when we came to its mouth, which was about two leagues wide, we saw rocks and foul ground within, and therefore stood out again; there we had twenty fathom water within two miles of the shore: the land everywhere appeared pretty low, flat, and even, but with steep cliffs to the sea, and when we came near it there were no trees, shrubs, or grass to be seen. The soundings in the latitude of 26 degrees south, from about eight or nine ...
— Early Australian Voyages • John Pinkerton

... shrewd lad indeed, Ulf," Wulf said warmly; "and I feel that you will fathom this matter if there be aught at the bottom. But, as you say, you cannot ...
— Wulf the Saxon - A Story of the Norman Conquest • G. A. Henty

... earlier part of our journey he had proved himself a most unrivalled chatterer. He seemed ill at ease in the presence of our guest, and a sort of mutual distrust, the cause of which I could not exactly fathom, seemed to be ...
— Carmen • Prosper Merimee

... alcohol. I never thought about it. I knew I should have it again when I was on my feet. But when I regained my feet I was not cured of my major afflictions. Naaman's silvery skin was still mine. The mysterious sun-sickness, which the experts of Australia could not fathom, still ripped and tore my tissues. Malaria still festered in me and put me on my back in shivering delirium at the most unexpected moments, compelling me to cancel a double lecture tour ...
— John Barleycorn • Jack London

... which is growing with unprecedented vigour, is their home. There, the place to which every race on earth sends a representative, the pulse of the whole world is throbbing. There, whoever does not run with the rest is run over; there, but one thing is important—actual life. Science has undertaken to fathom it, and the results which it gains with measures and numbers is of a different value and more lasting than that which the idle sport of the intellects of the older philosophers obtained. But art, her nobler sister, must pursue the same paths. ...
— Uarda • Georg Ebers

... granted that you would welcome a chance to brush Landis out of your path. It appears that I am wrong. I admit my error. Only fools cling to convictions; wise men are ready to meet new viewpoints. Very well. You wish to spare Landis for reasons of your own which I do not pretend to fathom. Perhaps, you pity him; I cannot tell. Now, you wonder why I wish to have Landis in my care if I do not intend to put an end to him and thereby become owner of his mines? I shall tell you frankly. I intend to own the mines, if not through the death ...
— Gunman's Reckoning • Max Brand

... arrows, Bringing death unto the maiden, Was a deep and darksome myst'ry Which his ignorance could not fathom. All the cause of his undoing Saw he in the silver arrow; So with true love's tireless effort, Quick he strove to break ...
— The White Doe - The Fate of Virginia Dare • Sallie Southall Cotten

... THIS one,' said she, in a meaning tone that he failed to fathom then. 'He deserted me ...
— The Well-Beloved • Thomas Hardy

... heard and read about Brutus, one of those mysterious men whose history we could not fathom, for as far north as York we read in a book there that "Brutus settled in this country when the Prophet Eli governed Israel and the Ark was taken from the Philistines, about 1140 B.C., or a century and a half ...
— From John O'Groats to Land's End • Robert Naylor and John Naylor

... Angelica's, twinkled a glance at his Father Confessor which had an effect on the latter that made itself apparent in the severity of his reply: "The ways of the Lord are inscrutable," he said, "and it is presumptuous for mortals, however great their station, to attempt to fathom them." ...
— The Heavenly Twins • Madame Sarah Grand

... I could fathom yon fellow's mind," I said to my comrade, as we stepped out through the snow and into the wooded brae-side, keeping a wary eye about for spies of the enemy, whose footprints we came on here and there, but so faint in the fresh snowfall that it was certain ...
— John Splendid - The Tale of a Poor Gentleman, and the Little Wars of Lorn • Neil Munro

... future for the little Prince, who had come into the world at the very moment when the great work had been achieved; and this feeling was shared by the august parents of the royal infant. So little can human foresight fathom the designs of the Almighty Disposer of all things! Men congratulated each other in the public street; and, forgetting the Huguenot origin of Henry, considered him only as the champion of the Romish faith; while they coupled ...
— The Life of Marie de Medicis, Vol. 1 (of 3) • Julia Pardoe

... with Celeste. There is a strange indecision and timidity which I cannot fathom. The thing, however, is abandoned; and, for a few months, I believe, all ...
— Memoirs of Aaron Burr, Complete • Matthew L. Davis

... said our hero with a modest look, "it may be, as you suggest, that Winnie Van der Kemp does not care for me more than for a fathom of salt water—" ...
— Blown to Bits - The Lonely Man of Rakata, the Malay Archipelago • R.M. Ballantyne

... was incomprehensible to him. Why under heaven had she done it? How could one so sensitive have done a wanton cruel thing like this? Her reason he could not fathom. The facts that confronted him were that she had done it, and had meant to carry the crime through. Only ...
— Brand Blotters • William MacLeod Raine

... king gazed hard at her face, as though trying to fathom the reason of her request, or at least to detect some scornful look upon her face to agree with her sneering words. But he was no match for the unparalleled astuteness of Atossa, though he had a vague suspicion that she wished to annoy him by calling up a memory which she knew could ...
— Marzio's Crucifix and Zoroaster • F. Marion Crawford

... significant fact, and probably, could we fathom all the profundities and unravel all the entanglements of the relations between the sexes, as deep and as intricate as significant, that no woman thinks a man can pay her a higher compliment than to wish to make her his ...
— Hints for Lovers • Arnold Haultain

... set forth in the local and London and provincial journals. Widely as it was discussed, and many as were the theories offered, no one could fathom the mystery. But all agreed that the failure of the police to find a clue was inexplicable. It was difficult enough to understand how the assassin could have murdered Bolton and opened the packing case, and removed the mummy to replace it by the body of his victim in a house filled with at least ...
— The Green Mummy • Fergus Hume

... insatiableness, And thirst eternal. Of the Last Supper The divine meaning Is to the earthly senses a riddle; But he that ever From warm, beloved lips, Drew breath of life; In whom the holy glow Ever melted the heart in trembling waves; Whose eye ever opened so As to fathom The bottomless deeps of heaven— Will eat of his body And drink of his blood Everlastingly. Who of the earthly body Has divined the lofty sense? Who can say That he understands the blood? One day all is body, One body: In heavenly blood Swims ...
— Rampolli • George MacDonald

... lead, but he wasna greetin'. Instead o' that he was awfu' satisfied like, and for all Hendry threatened to lick him he wouldna tell what he an' Leeby had been doin'. He says, though, says he, 'Ye'll no gang awa noo, mother; no, ye'll bide noo.' My bonny laddie, I didna fathom him at ...
— A Window in Thrums • J. M. Barrie

... in ancient wise, is sounding, With brother-spheres, in rival song; And, his appointed journey rounding, With thunderous movement rolls along. His look, new strength to angels lending, No creature fathom can for aye; The lofty works, past comprehending, Stand lordly, as on ...
— Faust • Goethe

... of the Peripatetic philosophers of old said long ago, that in men, as in the mixing of colours, the most opposite qualities combine. I will therefore only describe his disposition as far as I have been able to fathom it. ...
— The Secret History of the Court of Justinian • Procopius

... background a shade less deep. The south wind was blindly roaming about in the darkness like a sleep-walker. The stars in the sky with vigilant unblinking eyes were trying to penetrate the darkness, in their effort to fathom some profound mystery. ...
— The Hungry Stones And Other Stories • Rabindranath Tagore

... profound. It is unnecessary to confess that the field has by no means been exhausted. At every step of study its immensity is discovered. Even when the general arena of success in life has been closed out of consideration, as in these pages, Success- Magnetism defies any single mind to fathom it or ...
— Mastery of Self • Frank Channing Haddock

... their bearing. Having acquired some notoriety and a reputation for sanctity, her prophesyings before long took the form of denunciation of the divorce, at that time in its earlier stages. She was exploited by sundry fanatical persons honest or otherwise—in such cases it is seldom possible to fathom the extent to which mania, intentional deception, conscious or unconscious suggestion, and mere credulity, are mingled. In those days, there were few people who would venture to attribute such phenomena to purely natural ...
— England Under the Tudors • Arthur D. Innes

... that answer from head to foot, and seemed to fathom what was coming, with a prescience vague, but unmistakable. One appeal was left to ...
— A Modern Cinderella - or The Little Old Show and Other Stories • Louisa May Alcott

... he could not have said whether the work was a success or a failure. The feature of the performance that convinced him was the man and the magnetism that radiated from the man. The work itself he could neither fathom nor evaluate. It took hold of him nevertheless because of its inseparable association with the ...
— The Goose Man • Jacob Wassermann

... idolized him, but did not understand him. The master, who at one moment would make sport of his lame leg and the next moment forget that he had one, or jest about his poverty as though he were flinging good gold pieces about him—this was a man Pelle could not fathom. He was no wiser when he secretly looked into the books which Master Andres read so breathlessly; he would have been content with a much more modest adventure than a journey to the North Pole or the center of the earth, ...
— Pelle the Conqueror, Complete • Martin Andersen Nexo

... is a conception so wonderful, so sublime, that none but Himself can fathom its depths. Human intelligence is too finite to penetrate or comprehend a system so complex, and yet so uniform. The mind of man can only form a just idea of a cause when the effect has been made manifest to his understanding. There might have been a reason for the death ...
— Willis the Pilot • Paul Adrien

... I trust so; I should not be what I am, Still less what I will be, if hate did not Pursue me as my shadow. Ah! fair wife, Thou knowest not Burgos. Thou hast yet to fathom The depths of ...
— Count Alarcos - A Tragedy • Benjamin Disraeli

... carefully restored his pistols to his bosom and buttoned up. He was mounted in a few moments, and pressing slowly forward in pursuit. He had his own plans which we will not attempt to fathom; but we fear we shall be compelled to admit that he was not sufficiently a gentleman to scruple at turning scout in a time of peace (though, with him, by the way, and thus he justified, he is in pursuit of an enemy, and consequently ...
— Charlemont • W. Gilmore Simms

... a little hard. Robert's keen blue eyes did not disturb him in the least—did not affect him in any way. He saw his brother just as he was, for he had the larger philosophic and interpretative insight; but Robert could not place Lester exactly. He could not fathom just what had happened to him in these years. Lester was stouter, not gray, for some reason, but sandy and ruddy, looking like a man who was fairly well satisfied to take life as he found it. Lester looked at his brother with a keen, steady eye. The ...
— Jennie Gerhardt - A Novel • Theodore Dreiser

... bad. On one wall between the windows a specimen chart was framed. Maps are good; but how much better are charts, especially when you cannot read them except by guessing at their cryptic lettering! About the coast line the fathom marks cluster thickly, and venture to sea in lines which attenuate, or become sparse clusters, till the chart is blank, being beyond soundings. At the capes are red dots, with arcs on the seaward side ...
— London River • H. M. Tomlinson

... merciful essay! When we had once got upon the subject of sanitary improvements, I thought we should soon be five fathom deep in blue-books, reports, interminable questions of sewerage, and horrors ...
— Friends in Council (First Series) • Sir Arthur Helps

... lies a land, A wonderful land that the winds blow over, And none may fathom nor understand The charm it holds for the restless rover; A great grey chaos — a land half made, Where endless space is and no life stirreth; And the soul of a man will recoil afraid From the sphinx-like ...
— An Anthology of Australian Verse • Bertram Stevens

... to say it." She was studying his face with a strange, hungry eagerness, which he failed to fathom. "Children are so odd, Alfred, and have so many fancies that they conjure up themselves. I reckon he's heard Ma and Aunt Mandy talking about—well, about the big piece of luck that has come to you all. You know women that ...
— Dixie Hart • Will N. Harben

... bliss! Good-will immense prevails; Man's line can't fathom its profound An angel's ...
— The Poetical Works of Edward Young, Volume 2 • Edward Young

... with a sudden, strange impatience which I could not fathom. "You understand some day and turn upon me and strike and give ...
— Lords of the North • A. C. Laut

... under way. Letting out more slack on the rope attached to the harpoon a bight of it was passed through a sheave-block at the masthead, thus giving a greater purchase for the lifting of the heavy body. The winch was run by a small donkey-engine, and for about ten minutes the line was hauled in, fathom after fathom being coiled on the deck. Presently, as Colin looked over the rail, the dark body of the whale was seen coming to the surface, and as he was hauled alongside a chain was thrown around his flukes, and the body was made fast ...
— The Boy With the U. S. Fisheries • Francis Rolt-Wheeler

... to be seen anywhere, the problem of the formation of coral reefs would never have been a difficult one. Nothing can be easier than to understand how there must have been a time when the coral polypes came and settled on the shores of this island, everywhere within the 20 to 25 fathom line, and how, having perched there, they gradually grew until they built up ...
— Coral and Coral Reefs • Thomas H. Huxley

... tried to fathom a comrade with seductive sentences. He looked about to find men in the proper mood. All attempts failed to bring forth any statement which looked in any way like a confession to those doubts which he ...
— The Red Badge of Courage - An Episode of the American Civil War • Stephen Crane

... Parcallas twelve cattees; Salalos Ytam twelve and fourteen cattees; Turias and Tape Turias one and two cattees; Patola of two fathoms, fifty and sixty cattees; those of four fathoms and of one fathom at proportional prices; for twenty-eight pounds of rice, a dollar; Sago, which is a root of which the natives make their bread, is sold in bunches, and was worth a quarter of a dollar the bunch; velvets, sattins, taffetics, ...
— A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume IX. • Robert Kerr

... curious way that Rimrock could never fathom, Mrs. Hardesty was interested in stocks. She never explained it, but her visits to the Waldorf had something to do with trades. Whether she bought or sold, gathered tips or purveyed them or simply guarded her own investments was a mystery that he never solved; but she knew many people and, ...
— Rimrock Jones • Dane Coolidge

... of the thoughts that surged through Van's mind as he and Bob settled themselves into their places on the train and began the attempt to fathom the reams of directions Mr. Blake had sent them; pages and pages there were of what to do and what not to do on the long trip, the letter closing ...
— The Story of Sugar • Sara Ware Bassett

... has come to be a generic designation for women who fall from virtue and afterward repent. We are not considering whether the mercy of Christ could have been extended to such a sinner as Mary of Magdala is wrongly reputed to have been; man cannot measure the bounds nor fathom the depths of divine forgiveness; and if it were so that this Mary and the repentant sinner who ministered to Jesus as He sat at the Pharisee's table were one and the same, the question would stand ...
— Jesus the Christ - A Study of the Messiah and His Mission According to Holy - Scriptures Both Ancient and Modern • James Edward Talmage

... smoked his pipe in silence for a few minutes, blew the smoke out in clouds, and looked at it as though searching for something, and there was a serious look on his face, as though he was trying to fathom some mystery, while the redheaded boy was looking at himself in a hand mirror to see if the freckles on his nose were any smaller since he had been using some of his mother's toilet powder to remove them. Finally Uncle Ike put the bowl of the pipe to his nose and smelled ...
— Peck's Uncle Ike and The Red Headed Boy - 1899 • George W. Peck

... stay for a fortnight with friends at the seaside. She was the latest to return. Emily being now at home, there was no longer an excuse for postponing study; books were procured, and Jessie, by way of preparation, endeavoured to fathom the ...
— A Life's Morning • George Gissing

... nature peace, and that such was not the love she needed. Keith alone could give her true love. And she was in Keith's arms, puzzled and lethargic with something that was only not despair because she could not fathom her own feelings. ...
— Nocturne • Frank Swinnerton

... of the Law could be depended on to fathom every case of suspicion, and to conduct every process of inquiry, with moderate assistance only from the lubricating influences of oil of gold, the events which fill these pages might have claimed their share of the public attention in ...
— The Woman in White • Wilkie Collins

... of her character; he believed her to be too profound for shallow people to read all in a moment: he even intimated that he himself had experienced no little difficulty in understanding her at odd times. "And so," said he, "they turn round upon you, and instead of saying, 'We are too shallow to fathom you,' they pretend you ...
— A Simpleton • Charles Reade

... himself can be stirred out of his lethargy. He is wholly without hope, and is only thinking of throwing away everything and flying to some foreign land. The commissioners say there is a spell upon him that makes him hopeless—yes, and that it is shut up in a mystery which they cannot fathom." ...
— Innocents abroad • Mark Twain

... Dampier, however, proved an adept at the difficult business, and eventually the schooner Selache crept out from the Narrows at dusk one evening under all plain sail, painted a pale green, with her big main-boom raking at least a fathom beyond her taffrail. There were then Wyllard, Dampier, and two other white men on board her. A week later she sailed into a deep, rock-walled inlet on the western coast of Vancouver Island with a settlement at the top of it, where the storekeeper made no difficulty about selling Wyllard ...
— Hawtrey's Deputy • Harold Bindloss

... "Three fathom o' water here, my lad," whispered Josh, as with his companion he leaned over the side and gazed down at the ...
— Menhardoc • George Manville Fenn

... what? Could we fathom the mystery—? Lift up the lashes weighed down by her tears And wash with their dews one white face from her history, Set like a gem in the red rust of years? Nothing will rest her— unless he who died of her Strayed from his grave, and in place of the groom, Tipping her ...
— Afterwhiles • James Whitcomb Riley

... day foretold of them who dwell in the dust of the vineyard. Bow and be silent, ye children of God and ye of far countries. Consider how many lie low in the old, immemorial vineyard. Deep—fathom deep—is the dust of the dead 'neath the feet of ...
— Vergilius - A Tale of the Coming of Christ • Irving Bacheller

... comeliness, your content; to see the man he once sneered at the husband of the woman he once loved; to recall impotent regret. I know his nature, and can stir him to his heart's core with a look, revenge myself with a word, and read the secrets of his life with a skill he cannot fathom." ...
— Pauline's Passion and Punishment • Louisa May Alcott

... another intrigue, still more cleverly contrived, the black depths of which I hardly dare fathom. I incriminate no one; I simply give the naked facts, without the smallest commentary, but with scrupulous exactness. General Bernard having himself informed me that my Requiem was to be performed on certain conditions, ... I was about to begin my rehearsals ...
— Library Of The World's Best Literature, Ancient And Modern, Vol 4 • Charles Dudley Warner

... equitable, the most arduous part of this extensive work. I apply myself to decipher those hieroglyphics which the Egyptians used to inscribe in the temples of their gods and on the graves of their priests. Having brought over from Egypt a great number of those inscriptions, I fathom their sense by means of a key I was able to discover with ...
— The Queen Pedauque • Anatole France

... exclaimed Agias, all amazement, "what is the matter? Your speech is as obscure as Cinna's[92] poem called 'Zmyrna,' which I've heard was ten years in being written, and must be very fine, because no one can understand it. No more can I fathom you." ...
— A Friend of Caesar - A Tale of the Fall of the Roman Republic. Time, 50-47 B.C. • William Stearns Davis

... dazzling one's eyes with their wondrous beauty! Aye, and filling one's soul with love and one's body with health. And in the evening when the day's work is done there is above us that mysterious depth of star-spangled sky. We cannot fathom its mystery but like a stream of grace descending from heaven, we can feel the cool, refreshing dew on our upturned brow. Until at last we feel that we should like to take wing and actually fly up among those unknown worlds and ...
— The Girl Wanted • Nixon Waterman

... was," says his biographer, "that the philanthropist Howard, led by his benevolent enthusiasm to fathom dungeons, vindicate the wrongs, and alleviate the sufferings of the lonely and forgotten victim of vice and crime, arrived at Cork. A society had for some years existed in that city 'for the relief and discharge of persons confined for small debts,' of which O'Leary ...
— Irish Wit and Humor - Anecdote Biography of Swift, Curran, O'Leary and O'Connell • Anonymous

... upon its bosom floated tiny islands, those in the distance reduced to mere specks; but ever beyond them was the sea, until the impression became quite real that one was LOOKING UP at the most distant point that the eyes could fathom—the distance was lost in the distance. That was all—there was no clear-cut horizontal line marking the dip of the globe below ...
— At the Earth's Core • Edgar Rice Burroughs

... her, still giddy. Who was she? I could not trust the astounding recognition. She returned the look, bending towards me, seeking as eagerly, I saw with confused wonderment, to read my thought as I to fathom hers. Then, as some half knowledge grew to certainty, the light of her beauty became a glory; she seemed transfigured by a mighty joy such as no other ...
— The Bacillus of Beauty - A Romance of To-day • Harriet Stark

... but the priest of the district knows he can be no other than Grettir, and he asks Grettir what had become of the men who were lost. Grettir bids the priest come with him to the river. There was a waterfall, and a sheer cliff of fifty fathom down to the water, and under the force was seen the mouth of a cavern. They had a rope with them. The priest drives down a stake into a cleft of the rock and secured it with stones, and he sate by it. Grettir said, ...
— Anglo-Saxon Literature • John Earle

... too effeminate and languid to exert his will in the slightest particular. I had learnt to know his face better now; and to see that some vehement depth of feeling, the cause of which I could not fathom, made his grey eye glitter with pale light, and his lips contract, and his delicate cheek whiten on certain occasions. But all had been so open and above board at home, that I had no experience to help me to unravel any mysteries among those who lived under the same roof. I understood ...
— Curious, if True - Strange Tales • Elizabeth Gaskell

... unearthly? Was she, perhaps, some straying angel—some fervid, bright spirit, flame-coloured and intangible, a being of the elfin race? As they stood together looking at the distant coastline a depression which he could neither fathom nor control came over him. His bride seemed so much younger than he had ever realised. She cared for him—how could he doubt it? But was ...
— Robert Orange - Being a Continuation of the History of Robert Orange • John Oliver Hobbes

... when you said straight out to her that she was not really 'like that'? You guessed right, I fancy. It is quite possible she was not herself at the moment, though I cannot fathom her meaning. Evidently she meant to hurt and insult us. I have heard curious tales about her before now, but if she came to invite us to her house, why did she behave so to my mother? Ptitsin knows her very well; he says he could not understand her today. With ...
— The Idiot • (AKA Feodor Dostoevsky) Fyodor Dostoyevsky

... edge of a reef of coral rocks, which lay to the N.W. of us, having in some places round the ship 3 or 4 fathoms, and in others about as many feet; but about 100 feet from her starboard side, she laying with her head to the N.E., were 7, 8, and 10 fathom. Carried out the stream anchor and two hawsers on the starboard bow and the coasting anchor and cable upon the starboard quarters, got down yards and topmasts, and hove taught upon the hawser and cable; but as ...
— The Naval Pioneers of Australia • Louis Becke and Walter Jeffery

... civilisation, a decorous and accessible uniform, not to be lightly set aside. But let it be a friend of your own who is to marry, a friend of your own who dies, and you are to express yourself—the problem is changed, you feel all the difficulties of the art of style, and fathom something of the depth of your unskill. Forbidden silence, we should be in ...
— Style • Walter Raleigh

... I.ii.396 (28,9) [Full fathom five thy father lies] [Charles Gildon had criticized the song as trifling, and Warburton had defended its dramatic propriety.] I know not whether Dr. Warburton has very successfully defended these songs from Gildon's accusation. Ariel's lays, however seasonable and efficacious, must ...
— Johnson's Notes to Shakespeare Vol. I Comedies • Samuel Johnson

... Koorookh angrily, he with a heavy eye sulking, and keeping the sullen feathers close upon his poll. Now, she thought, 'There is in this a meaning and I will fathom it.' So she counted the letters in the name of her betrothed, that were thirteen, and spelt them backwards, afterwards multiplying them by an equal number, and fashioning words from the selection of every third and seventh ...
— The Shaving of Shagpat • George Meredith

... Norey's Chart, The very place it tells: I think it says twelve fathom deep, Clay bottom, ...
— The Haunted Hour - An Anthology • Various

... must turn over the leaves of the book of the past, and study its economic aspect, as we have studied its political and literary aspect. We must follow living nations through their divers periods of development, and fathom the causes of the destruction of those that are dead. When we are dealing with the comparative study of the economic destinies of nations, our investigations are limited to a small number of individual nations—a further reason not to omit any, and above all, to scrutinize, as an ...
— Principles Of Political Economy • William Roscher

... their mouths, and part without, soe they go under water, where at first they can not stay long, but after practice, the leanest stay an hour and a halfe, even till the oyle of the spunge be corrupted.... Thus they gather spunges from more than an hundred fathom deep," &c. All this is very wonderful, but the narrator stamps the value of his tale by telling us immediately afterward that "Samos is the only place in the world on whose rocks the spunges grow." So that, in the words which he elsewhere makes use of, ...
— Harper's New Monthly Magazine, Volume 1, No. 3, August, 1850. • Various

... sad story. Can it be possible that there is some quixotic notion in your head that it is for you to heal a wound for which one of your family was responsible? Oh, surely not! And yet, you women are so fond of anything like self-sacrifice that it is impossible to fathom the motives that drive you into folly: generous, well-meant folly, but folly all the same. You have no one here to advise you, and I beg you to be guided by me. You are not really called upon to do this thing. It is undesirable—it ...
— East of the Shadows • Mrs. Hubert Barclay

... fathom only under our keel!" exclaimed the boatswain. "What is the meaning, too, of these breakers away in the south-east? Mr Kydd, we must anchor, and you ought ...
— In the Wilds of Africa • W.H.G. Kingston

... ever more dissimilar than ours. A calm and mighty river is not more unlike the torrent which swells with the rain, and ebbs the next day, than your nature is to mine. Do not try to understand me, Edward: I say it in the deepest humility, you cannot fathom the folly and the weakness of my soul; but thus much you may believe, that as the mountain stream, chafe and foam as it may, has but one object and one end, so, the varied impulses and the restless fluctuations of my uneasy spirit tend but to one result—its unlimited ...
— Ellen Middleton—A Tale • Georgiana Fullerton

... one man among my companions there who contrived, by devices which I never sought to fathom, to pass the immitigable outer gates themselves every day, attend to his business in the outer world for as many hours as might serve, returning quietly in time for last roll-call. He took a keeper with him, of course, but only in order to assuage possible anxiety on the part of those ...
— The Subterranean Brotherhood • Julian Hawthorne

... tide was with us when we regained the Flats Bridge, and the galley shot down the rapid like an arrow, the beds of scarlet sponges and the great lazy trepangs showing perfectly clearly on the bottom at a fathom depth. ...
— Young Folks' Library, Volume XI (of 20) - Wonders of Earth, Sea and Sky • Various

... responses, and Sam Buzza, his friend, whom few Trojans excelled in casting glances at the female congregation. Then, most gorgeous and bravest of all, the Admiral: he wore again his gold-laced coat, but the cocked-hat rested underneath the seat, and none could fathom the import of his gaze. By him sat his three daughters, a-row, in straight-backed dresses of like cut and colour, and peeped over their prayer-books; and Mrs. Buzza, timorous, in bright green satin. But of the throng of Trojan ...
— The Astonishing History of Troy Town • Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch

... I walked toward one of the trees, stopped at a reddish boulder to examine it. And surprise caught at my throat. It was an artifact—a crumbling ruin, the remnant of an ancient structure whose original appearance I could not fathom. The stone seemed iron-hard. There were traces of inscription on it, but eroded to illegibility. And I never did learn the history of those enigmatic ruins.... They did ...
— Where the World is Quiet • Henry Kuttner

... the mystery of Glanville's disguise; the intensity of a revenge so terribly expressed, together with the restless and burning anxiety I felt—not from idle curiosity, but, from my early and intimate friendship for Glanville, to fathom its cause—all crowded upon my mind with a feverish confusion, that ...
— Pelham, Complete • Edward Bulwer-Lytton

... a ledge of coral, not half-a-fathom under the surface. Depressing one end of the filled canoe, and letting go of it quickly, it bounced up, and discharged a great part of its contents; so that we easily baled out the remainder, and again embarked. This time, my comrade ...
— Omoo: Adventures in the South Seas • Herman Melville

... fire started in the hold. It's makin' headway fast now, an'll reach the dynamite most any time. You'd better take us aboard, an' get away from here as quick as you can. 'Tain't safe nowhere within five hun'erd fathom ...
— The Mucker • Edgar Rice Burroughs

... vaguely conscious of being the guardian of a woman's instinct for safety, an instinct which arrives with the cradle and only goes with the grave, and that made me feel somewhat helpless; a man in depths he cannot fathom, for such is the ...
— The Black Colonel • James Milne

... him. He borrows his inch from the breadth of his thumb, his palm and span from the width of his hand and the spread of his fingers, his foot from the length of the organ so named; his cubit is the distance from the tip of his middle finger to his elbow, and his fathom is the space he can measure with his outstretched arms. [Footnote: The French metrical system seems destined to be adopted throughout the civilized world. It is indeed recommended by great advantages, but it is very doubtful whether they are not more than counterbalanced by the selection of too ...
— The Earth as Modified by Human Action • George P. Marsh

... to feel that he was flushing. He could not fathom her, but he had a conviction that she had been serious and that this attitude was a mere pose. "Nevertheless, I think it can be managed," he insisted. "And I ...
— The Blood Red Dawn • Charles Caldwell Dobie

... If you could have foreseen that those spoons and forks would have soon passed, - by a mysterious system of loss which undergraduate powers can never fathom, - into the property of Mr. Robert Filcher, the excellent, though occasionally erratic, scout of your beloved son, and from thence have melted, not "into thin air," but into a residuum whose mass might be expressed by the equivalent of ...
— The Adventures of Mr. Verdant Green • Cuthbert Bede

... explorations, and those men of World 3769-8482730-3 have learned too much. We were wrong. They had found the secret of exceeding the speed of light, and can travel through space fully as rapidly as we can, and now, since by some means we cannot fathom, they have learned to combine both our own system and theirs, they have one enormous engine of destruction that travels across their huge universe in less time than it takes us to travel across a ...
— Invaders from the Infinite • John Wood Campbell

... difficulties as best she might. Being tolerably quick in observing, and putting things together, and unwilling to trust to intuitive judgments of what was safe or unsafe in the moral atmosphere, she set to work with all her wits, and not without some measure of success, to fathom the secrets of the tantalizing freemasonry which piqued her curiosity. By listening to all that was said, laughing when others laughed, keeping silent when she was puzzled, comparing results and drawing deductions, she presently began to understand ...
— Bressant • Julian Hawthorne

... Boccaccio, perhaps; and that's as well, as to the hint he gives, which may be borrowed from one of that author's stories. But Miss Clarissa Harlowe is above all artifice. She must have some meaning I cannot fathom. ...
— Clarissa, Or The History Of A Young Lady, Volume 8 • Samuel Richardson

... line, which was something short of two fathoms in length. He was stationed at the bows, and ever and anon proclaimed aloud the depth of water in language that he fondly believed to be English. As we dashed along in one fathom water, he seemed perfectly at his ease, and drew the small lead from the river, and again tossed it before him with a studied grace, turning round occasionally, with an air of affected indifference, to read admiration in our ...
— Chambers' Edinburgh Journal - Volume XVII., No 423, New Series. February 7th, 1852 • Various

... revolutions made by the little screw during the descent; and it having been ascertained by experiment in shoal water that the apparatus, in descending, would cause the propeller to make one revolution for every fathom of perpendicular descent, hands provided with the power of self-registering were attached to a dial, and the instrument was complete. It worked beautifully in moderate depths, but failed in blue water, from the difficulty of hauling ...
— The Ocean and its Wonders • R.M. Ballantyne

... examination every thing we are directed to admit, is to be basely and stupidly credulous. To say that religion is above reason, is to recognize the fact that it was not made for reasonable beings; it is to avow that those who teach it have no more ability to fathom its depths than ourselves; it is to confess that our reverend doctors do not themselves understand the marvels with which ...
— Letters to Eugenia - or, a Preservative Against Religious Prejudices • Baron d'Holbach

... Take an opportunity of going unnoticed, to a bean stack, and fathom it three times round. The last fathom of the last time, you will catch in your arms the appearance ...
— The Complete Works of Robert Burns: Containing his Poems, Songs, and Correspondence. • Robert Burns and Allan Cunningham

... mountain-peaks of the submerged plateau. The seas that wash the long Cornish peninsula, therefore, though they are thoroughly oceanic in character, especially on the north, are not oceanic in depth; we have to pass far beyond Scilly to cross the hundred-fathom line. From the Dover strait westward there is a gradual lowering of the incline, though of course with such variations and undulations as we find on the emerged plains; but the existence of this vast submarine basis must cause us ...
— The Cornwall Coast • Arthur L. Salmon

... joy of life! Its currents swept by her unheeded now. Why had not God been merciful to her, that she could have died there upon the sea, she thought. Ah, poor humanity never learns His mercy; perhaps it is because we have no measure by which to fathom its mighty depths. She saw herself old and lonely, forgotten but not forgetting. But even then lacked she not opportunity; woman-like, in spite of her constancy, she took a melancholy pleasure in the thought that there was one still who hungered for the shattered remnants of her broken heart, who ...
— For Love of Country - A Story of Land and Sea in the Days of the Revolution • Cyrus Townsend Brady

... transpired that this apparently unexceptional proceeding was looked on by many with grave offence. The Afghan officers muttered that this was mere braggadocio on the part of the sahibs; that the sport was only to show how they would spit and cut down the sons of the Prophet, if they had the chance! To fathom such depths of bigotry as this incident reveals is one of the many difficulties which face Englishmen ...
— The Story of the Guides • G. J. Younghusband

... stay?" "Yes, Sir, I believe she will, if we don't make any confusion; she's all aback—forward now?"—"Well," says he, "work the ship, I will not speak a single word." The ship stayed very well. "Then, heave the lead! see what water we have!" "Three fathom." "Keep the ship away, west-north-west."—"By the mark three." "This won't do, Archer." "No, Sir, we had better haul more to the northward; we came south-south-east, and had better steer north-north-west." ...
— Thrilling Narratives of Mutiny, Murder and Piracy • Anonymous

... fear," replied Kate, more sure than ever that some mystery which she could not fathom hid itself under this new plan of Virginia's. "And now for something else I wanted to ask you. Do, like a dear, good girl, lend me ten pounds. You know how stupidly hard up I always am. I'll pay it back ...
— The Castle Of The Shadows • Alice Muriel Williamson

... jealousy, was aroused. He was brave comme son epee. Should he shrink from the power or the enmity of a man mortal as himself? And why should Zicci desire him to give his name and station to one of a calling so equivocal? Might there not be motives he could not fathom? Might not the actress and the Corsican be in league with each other? Might not all this jargon of prophecy—and menace be but artifices to dupe him,—the tool, perhaps, of a mountebank and his mistress! Mistress,—ah, no! If ever maidenhood wrote its modest characters externally, ...
— Zicci, Complete • Edward Bulwer-Lytton

... of all this suffering some great sin she herself was ignorant of. Morning and evening she knelt long before the sacred images, imploring God to deliver her from her pain; and feeling herself soothed by this effusion of mystic tenderness, she kept her sadness to herself, still refusing to fathom it. But she was visibly wasting away: the smoky atmosphere of her home had now the same painful influence upon her that the want of fresh air had formerly when she first left her village. She passed the winter suffering, uncomplaining, unrelaxing in her work. Gradually ...
— The Little Russian Servant • Henri Greville

... poorhouse a few persons had died and been buried in the ground was till fresh in his memory, and from the oaths and unkind language of his mother he had come to the conclusion that all must die and be buried in the same manner. What became of them after death he could not fathom, but he concluded that the frost in the winter-time was a sort of cold vapor arising from the bodies of those who were dead and that such things were all governed by the great man ...
— The Poorhouse Waif and His Divine Teacher • Isabel C. Byrum

... and they behave like a father who disinherits his son because, as a man, he notes his parent's weakness. With tears and anguish have I striven for truth and knowledge. There is not a province of thought whose deepest depths I have not tried to fathom; and when I recognized that it is not given to mortals to apprehend the essence of the divinity because the organs bestowed on us are too small and feeble; when I refused to pronounce whether that which I can not apprehend exists ...
— Uarda • Georg Ebers

... ye norate thet ye've done been tradin' and hagglin' with old man McGivins long enough ter buy his logs offen him and yit ye hain't never met up with Alexander. I kain't hardly fathom hit noways." ...
— A Pagan of the Hills • Charles Neville Buck



Words linked to "Fathom" :   quantify, cubic measure, cubage unit, mining, excavation, understand, pace, cubature unit, capacity unit, sound, capacity measure, linear measure, yard, linear unit, displacement unit, measure, cubic content unit, volume unit



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