A verst or werst is an obsolete Russian unit of length. It is defined as being 500 sazhen long, which makes a verst equal to 1.0668 kilometre
The kilometre is a unit of length in the metric system, equal to one thousand metres and is therefore exactly equal to the distance travelled by light in free space in of a second...

s (3,500 feet).

In the English language
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

, verst is singular with the normal plural versts. In Russian, the nominative singular
Grammatical number
In linguistics, grammatical number is a grammatical category of nouns, pronouns, and adjective and verb agreement that expresses count distinctions ....

 is versta, but the form usually used with numbers is genitive plural
In linguistics, plurality or [a] plural is a concept of quantity representing a value of more-than-one. Typically applied to nouns, a plural word or marker is used to distinguish a value other than the default quantity of a noun, which is typically one...

 verst — 10 verst, 25 verst, etc. — whence the English form.

A mezhevaya versta (border verst) is twice as long as a verst.

"The verst of the 17th century was 700 sazhens or 1.49 km as against the 500 sazhens or 1.06 km it became at the time of Peter the Great". The Russian Wiki mentions several other old values.

A poem by John Berger
John Berger
John Peter Berger is an English art critic, novelist, painter and author. His novel G. won the 1972 Booker Prize, and his essay on art criticism Ways of Seeing, written as an accompaniment to a BBC series, is often used as a university text.-Education:Born in Hackney, London, England, Berger was...

, from his book And our Faces My Heart, Brief as Photos:
In Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

, virsta was originally 1.069 km according to the Swedish standard, but the Russian verst (1.0669 km) replaced it after annexation to the Russian Empire in 1809. Virsta was originally 600 sylis (fathoms, 1.781 m), but then changed to 500 syli, since the Russian syli was longer, 2.134 m. A derived unit was peninkulma = 10 virsta (see Finnish units of measurement
Finnish units of measurement
In Finland, approximate units of measure were derived from natural actions or objects such body parts, later standardised for the purpose of commerce. Some Swedish and, later, Russian, units were also used....

). Metrication replaced virsta with the kilometer in the 1880s.

External links

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