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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.

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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Another version is that it's actually "корх", not "горшок" - another outdated unit - a fist, i.e. four fingers wide.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".

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  • 1
    -1, this does not mean "soup bowl" at all! It is indeed the place where babies poop. – Anixx May 28 '16 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 '16 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 '16 at 10:00
  • @Alissa Cooking pot, not a chamber pot. – Matt May 30 '16 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 '16 at 9:46
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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.

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3

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

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3

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

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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. -

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2

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

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