• Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • Fother A wagonload; a load of any sort. "Of dung full many a fother ."
    • Fother See Fodder, a unit of weight.
    • v. t Fother To stop (a leak in a ship at sea) by drawing under its bottom a thrummed sail, so that the pressure of the water may force it into the crack.
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n fother A wagon-load; a cart-load.
    • n fother A load; weight; burden; mass.
    • n fother An old unit of weight for lead, lime, and some other substances; a two-horse cart-load. A fother of lead varies from 19 1/2 to 22 1/2 hundredweight, each hundredweight being usually 120 pounds avoirdupois. At Néwcastle in England a fother is a third of a chaldron; and in American lead-mines the word is sometimes used for a short ton.
    • fother To place a sail or tarpaulin over, as a leak in a ship's hull, for the purpose of keeping the water out. In fathering a leak, rope-yarns, oakum, etc., are thickly stitched on the sail or tarpaulin.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • v.t Fother foth′ėr to stop or lessen a leak in a ship's bottom whilst afloat by means of a heavy sail closely thrummed with yarn and oakum.
    • n Fother foth′ėr a load, quantity: a definite weight—of lead, 19½ cwt.
    • ***


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
OE. fother, foder, AS. fōer, a cartload; akin to G. fuder, a cartload, a unit of measure, OHG. fuodar, D. voeder, and perh. to E. fathom, or cf. Skr. pātrā, vessel, dish. Cf. Fodder a fother
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
A.S. fóðer; Ger. fuder.


In literature:

Fothering the ship, 276, 277.
"Captain Cook's Journal During the First Voyage Round the World" by James Cook
At this time the leak had not increased; but that we might be prepared for all events, we got the sail ready for another fothering.
"A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Vol. 13" by Robert Kerr
To try and stop the leaks, Captain Drury ordered the only spare mainsail to be fothered and drawn under the ship's bottom.
"Paddy Finn" by W. H. G. Kingston
He would get another sail fothered, which might help to keep out the water a few hours longer.
"The Voyages of the Ranger and Crusader" by W.H.G. Kingston
At length one of the midshipmen suggested the device of "fothering," which he had seen practised in the West Indies.
"Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 2, Slice 8" by Various