What is fathom?

Fathom is an old English measure of length. It is standardized at 6 feet which nearly equals 1.83 metre.

Fathom was defined as the distance from the middle fingertip of one hand to the middle fingertip of the other hand of a large man holding his arms fully extended. The name comes from the Old English faedm or faethm, meaning outstretched arms.

Fathom is used mainly in water depth measurement.

One fathom is equal to:

  • Either 1.8288 metres exactly (1 metre is about 0.5468 fathoms) or 1.828804 m exactly.
  • 2 yards (1 yard is exactly 1/2 of a fathom)
  • 6 feet (1 foot is exactly 1/6 of a fathom)
  • 18 hands
  • 72 inches


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