Spelling of Metric Units
Sometimes there are controversies in various countries about the spelling of metric units. In many cases, these controversies grow out of a misunderstanding as to just what is international in the International System of Units (SI).
The fact is that the spellings of SI units vary from one language to another. In the case of the U.S. and Britain, spellings differ even within a language: Americans write "meter" and "liter" while the British write "metre" and "litre".
The variation in spelling goes much further than that. Even if we disregard accent markings, the fundamental SI unit of length has numerous spellings, including:
- meter (American English, Danish, Dutch, German, Hungarian, Norwegian, Slovak, and Swedish)
- metr (Czech, Polish, Russian, Ukrainian)
- metras (Lithuanian)
- metre (British, Australian, Canadian and New Zealand English; French)
- metri (Finnish)
- metro (Basque, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish)
No doubt this list could be extended quite a bit. The point is, there is no "official" spelling of the SI units. What the SI does provide includes the names, the definitions, and the symbols of the units. The words meter, metr, metre, etc. represent the same name spelled in different languages.
Within the International System, Russians are welcome to call 1000 meters a kilometr, but they cannot call it a verst, because that would be a different name. The Italians call the same unit the chilometro, but they cannot make its symbol chm; they must use km.
verst, versta, vehrsta
The verst is the traditional Russian unit of distance, formerly used throughout eastern Europe. The verst equals 1500 arshin, which is 3500 feet, 0.662 88 mile, or 1066.8 meters. Although vehrsta is the best transliteration of the Russian term, the spelling verst is common in English. The German spelling werst is also used, sometimes. In Finnish the unit is called the virsta. The Russian plural is vehrsty.
Related "measure" and "metric" words and charts:
Metric Chart of Units.