The obsolete Finnish units of measurement consist mostly of a variety of units traditionally used in Finland that are similar to those that were traditionally used in other countries and are still used in the United Kingdom (imperial units) and the United States (United States customary units).
Very few of these units are sometimes still used in everyday speech and even when buying and measuring things as shorthand for similar amounts in the metric system. For example, kappa (sometimes called isokappa) is still used at markets to measure exactly 5 liters of potatoes. When ordering firewood, some customers (and even dealers) use syli to refer to a cubic meter, but some old people use the term to refer to various much larger amounts of firewood.
Most Finnish obsolete units of measurement were identical to Swedish units of measurement, including units of length being based on the Swedish "foot" (29.69 cm) that was defined in 1605, since Finland was part of Sweden from the Middle Ages to 1809, but later some Russian units were also used.
The measurements were first standardized by law in 1665 and were revised in 1735. Before this, measurements often varied between towns. The king's bailiff in the town of Porvoo, for example, used two sets of measures: a big one for collecting tax in kind from the populace and a smaller set to remit the assets to the king, keeping the difference for himself.^{[citation needed]} However, nowadays the proverb mitata Porvoon mitalla (to measure in Porvoo units) has a positive meaning of measuring in excess or generously.
Certain units were standardized to the metric system in 1861, and Finland fully converted to the metric system in 1880.
Unit | Relative value |
Metric value |
Imperial value |
Notes |
---|---|---|---|---|
linja | 1⁄144 | ~2.06 mm | ~0.081 in | The width of a barleycorn. Cf. barleycorn (unit). |
tuuma | 1⁄12 | ~24.74 mm | ~0.97 in | The width of a thumb. Inch translates into tuuma in Finnish. Metrinen tuuma = 25 mm. |
vaaksa | 1⁄2 | ~148.44 mm | ~5.84 in | The distance between the tips of little finger and thumb, when the fingers are fully extended. Today defined as 150 mm. Cf. span (unit). |
jalka | 1 | ~296.9 mm | ~11.68 in | The length of a human foot. Cf. foot (unit) - it translates into jalka in Finnish. |
kyynärä | 2 | ~593.76 mm | ~1.94 ft | The distance from the elbow to the fingertips. The usual unit on measuring everyday lengths. Metrinen kyynärä = 500 mm. Cf. cubit. |
syli | 6 | ~1.8 m | ~5.9 ft | Fathom; the distance between the fingertips of both hands when the arms are raised horizontally to the sides. In maritime contexts, syli is 1⁄1,000 of nautical mile (1.852 m). |
vakomitta | 720 | ~213.6 m | ~700.78 ft | The furrow's length on a field. Cf. furlong. |
virsta | 3,600 | ~1,068.84 m | ~0.66 mi | 2,672 m (Swedish) 1,068.84 m (Finnish). Related to the Russian verst. |
peninkulma (old) | 18,000 | ~5,344.2 m | ~3.32 mi | Before year 1600: 5 virsta. The distance a barking dog can be heard in still air. |
peninkulma (new) | 36,000 | ~10.6884 km | ~6.64 mi | After year 1600: 10 virsta. |
päivämatka | 72,000 | ~20 km | ~12.42 mi | The distance of one day's travel. |
Obsolete:
Unit | Relative value |
Metric value |
Imperial value |
Notes |
---|---|---|---|---|
kannunala | ~88.15 m^{2} | ~818.91 sq ft | 1,000 square jalka. | |
kapanala | ~154 m^{2} | ~1,430.66 sq ft (158.96 sq yd) | 1⁄32 of tynnyrinala. The area (of field) that could be sown with one bushel of grain. | |
panninala | ~2,464 m^{2} | ~22,890.56 sq ft (2,543.4 sq yd) | 16 kapanala, 1⁄2 of tynnyrinala. The area (of field) that could be sown with one panni of grain. | |
tynnyrinala | ~4,936.5 m^{2} | ~45,860.09 sq ft (5,095.565 sq yd) | The area (of field) that could be sown with one barrel of grain. | |
äyrityisenmaa | 1 | 3,926 square kyynärä. The area which grows grain worth of one äyrityinen for taxation. | ||
äyrinmaa | 3 | 11,777 square kyynärä. The area which grows grain worth of one äyri for taxation. | ||
penninginmaa | 125 | 490,790 square kyynärä. The area which grows grain worth of one penninki for taxation. |
Unit | Relative value |
Metric value |
Imperial value |
Notes |
---|---|---|---|---|
jumpru | 1⁄16 | ~81.8 ml | ~2.9 fl. oz | From Swedish jungfru, virgin. Also for liquids. |
kortteli | 1⁄4 | ~327.15 ml | ~11.51 fl. oz. | Used for both length (14.845 cm, same as vaaksa) and volume. Name derives from Swedish kvartdel, meaning "quarter". As unit of length 1⁄4 of kyynärä. |
tuoppi | 1 | ~1.3274 L | ~46.72 fl. oz (2.336 pt) | Literally tankard. Also for liquids. |
kannu | 2 | ~2.6172 L | ~4.61 pt | Lit. "jug". Also called pikkukappa (exactly 2.5 L). |
kappa | 4 | ~5.4961 L | 9.67 pt (4.84 qt) | Still in use (as exactly 5 liters) as kappa or isokappa at market places to measure potatoes. |
nelikko | 32 | ~43.986 L | 38.72 qt (9.68 gal.) | Used for dry measure. |
panni | 64 | ~87.96 L | 19.36 gal. | Used for dry measure. |
tynnyri | 128 | ~175 L | 38.49 gal. | Barrel for dry measure. |
lästi | 1,536 | ~2,110 L | 464.14 gal. | Used for dry measure. |
Unit | Relative value |
Metric value |
Imperial value |
Notes |
---|---|---|---|---|
jumpru | 1⁄16 | ~81.8 ml | From Swedish jungfru, virgin. | |
kortteli | 1⁄4 | ~327.15 ml | Used for both length (14.845 cm, same as vaaksa) and volume. Name derives from Swedish kvartdel, meaning "quarter". As unit of length 1⁄4 of kyynärä. | |
tuoppi | 1 | ~1.3274 L | Literally tankard. Used for liquids. | |
kannu | 2 | ~2.6172 L | Also called pikkukappa (exactly 2.5 L). | |
kappa | 4 | ~5.4961 L | Also for dry substances. | |
ankkuri | 30 | ~39.26 L | Used for liquid measure. | |
tynnyri | 96 | ~125.6 L | Barrel for liquid measure. | |
lästi | 1,152 | ~1,507 L | Used for liquid measure. |
Unit | Relative value |
Metric value |
Imperial value |
Notes |
---|---|---|---|---|
luoti | 1⁄16 | ~13.95 g | The weight of a musket ball. | |
unssi | 1⁄8 | ~27.9 g | ||
markka | 1 | ~213.8 g | Name of the Finnish monetary unit 1861–2002 | |
naula | 2 | ~425.6 g | metrinen naula = 500 g; the Imperial pound may be translated naula although pauna is exact | |
leiviskä | 40 | ~8.5004 kg | metrinen leiviskä = 10 kg | |
sentneri | 200 | ~42.56 kg | 1 Senttaali = 200 metrinen naula = 100 kg. | |
kippunta | 800 | ~170 kg |