I have watched a children's cartoon called "Умная дочка" made by "Гора Самоцветов". At one point a phrase "от горшка два вершка" is used. What does it mean? Is вершок a special Russian metric unit, or something? Which горшок is meant, the one in which babies poop?

Thank you in advance!

P.S. I only watch Russian childern cartoons, because characters use, more or less, everyday Russian language, not because I am a kid.


6 Answers 6


Is вершок a special Russian metric unit, or something?

It's old antropomorphic unit. While "inch" is "thumb-wide", "вершок" is "pointing+middle fingers wide", which is formally a little less than two inches. But otherwise "вершок" is just like "inch" - "something very small".

Which горшок is meant, the one in which babies poop?

It's hard to say but I believe it's a (food) bowl. So it rather means sort of "two inches above a soup bowl" / "you're hardly seen behind a soup bowl".

Another version is that it's actually "корх", not "горшок" - another outdated unit - a fist, i.e. four fingers wide. So it becomes: "от коршка два вершка" = "a fist and two halves" (or even "a fist without two halves", i.e. zero).

Anyway it's unlikely related to a chamber pot, as "горшок" was a general term in old times.

The whole expression used in a live speech may mean both "too young" and "too small".

  • 1
    -1, this does not mean "soup bowl" at all! It is indeed the place where babies poop.
    – Anixx
    May 28, 2016 at 7:18
  • @Anixx The true meaning is vague. But it couldn't be related to a chamber pot, as "горшок" was quite a broad term back then.
    – Matt
    May 28, 2016 at 9:50
  • I wouldn't say that горшок is a food bowl, it's a pot I think (pics: bit.ly/24gnPlu )
    – Alissa
    May 30, 2016 at 10:00
  • @Alissa Cooking pot, not a chamber pot.
    – Matt
    May 30, 2016 at 12:11
  • @Matt the word горшок itself could mean both chamber and cooking pot. But in the proverb we're discussing it is definitely a cooking pot.
    – Alissa
    Jun 1, 2016 at 9:46

От горшка два вершка jokingly denotes a person 's small height or young age. Горшок was a kind of Russian ancient pot made of clay and used for cooking food.They could be of different sizes.

Вершок was an ancient Russian measure of length equal to modern 4,44см.


It means You are too young (too small).
On other questions:
вершок - length unit (obsolete),
горшок - chamber pot.


If it is said about person, this phrase indicates that a person is not very tall.
Just an russian idiom.
"горшок" is pot
вершок - definition from wiktionary "an old Russian unit of length approximately equal to 4.445 centimeters"
Then according to phrase, this person is as tall as a pot with two these units above.
compare to english analogues:
pint-sized, knee-high to a grass-hopper, a little runt


In my opinion this phrase is said about a person, who became only a few inches taller as compared to himself when he used to use a baby poo bowl. It is a comparison between person's height in past (when he had to use a baby poo bowl) and his current height (when he is tall enough to use regular toilet) not between his height and a height of some thing like cooking pot or some bowl. Similar proverb: Молоко на губах не обсохло. -


Гошок would mean a baby pot in this case. Meaning you're young, small or unexperienced.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.