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5000 Russian rubles issued in 2006
100,000 Belarusian rubles issued in 2000
100 Russian rubles issued in 2013, printed to commemorate the Olympic Games in Sochi-2014

The ruble or rouble (/ˈrbəl/; Russian: рубль; IPA: [ruplʲ]) is a unit of currency of various countries in Eastern Europe and is closely associated with the economy of Russia. Currently, the currency units of Belarus, Russia (including several territories with Russian military presence: Crimea, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transnistria), and, in the past, the currency units of several other countries, notably countries influenced by Russia and the Soviet Union, are named rubles, though they are all different currencies. One ruble is divided into 100 kopecks (Russian: копе́йка, tr. kopeyka; IPA: [kɐˈpʲejkə]).

For the individual currencies, see below the section List of rubles.



According to one version, the word "ruble" is derived from the Russian verb рубить, rubit, i.e., to cut, to chop, to hack.

In Russian:

Рубли были частями гривны или кусками серебра с зарубками, означавшими их вес. Каждая гривна разделялась на четыре части; название же рубль произошло от слова «рубить», потому что прут серебра в гривну весом разрубался на четыре части, которые и назывались рублями.

Rubles were parts of the grivna or pieces of silver with notches indicating their weight. Each grivna was divided into four parts; the name "ruble" came from the word "cut" because the silver rod weighing 1 grivna was split into four parts, which were called rubles.[1]

Historically, "ruble" was a piece of a certain weight chopped off a silver ingot (grivna), hence the name. Another version of the word's origin is that it comes from the Russian noun рубец, rubets, i.e., the seam that is left around the coin after casting: silver was added to the cast in two steps. Therefore, the word ruble means "a cast with a seam".[2]

The ruble was the Russian equivalent of the mark, a measurement of weight for silver and gold used in medieval Western Europe. The weight of one ruble was equal to the weight of one grivna.

In Russian, a folk name for "ruble", tselkovyj (целко́вый, IPA: [tsɨlˈkovɨj], wholesome), is known, which is a shortening of the целковый рубль ("tselkovyj ruble"), i.e., a wholesome, uncut ruble.[citation needed] This name persists in the Mordvin word for ruble, целковой.

The word kopek, kopeck, copeck, or kopeyka (in Russian: копейка, kopeyka) is a diminutive form of the Russian kop'yo (копьё) — a spear. The first kopek coins, minted at Novgorod and Pskov from about 1534 onwards, show a horseman with a spear. From the 1540s onwards the horseman bears a crown, and doubtless the intention was to represent Ivan the Terrible, who was Grand Prince of all Russia until 1547, and Tsar thereafter. Subsequent mintings of the coin, starting in the 18th century, bear instead Saint George striking down a serpent.

Since the monetary reform of 1534, one Russian accounting ruble became equivalent to 100 silver Novgorod denga coins or smaller 200 Muscovite denga coins or even smaller 400 polushka coins. Exactly the former coin with a rider on it soon became colloquially known as kopek and was the higher coin until the beginning of the 18th century. Ruble coins as such did not exist till Peter the Great, when in 1704 he reformed the old monetary system and ordered mintage of a 28-gramme silver ruble coin equivalent to 100 new copper kopek coins. Apart from one ruble and one kopek coins other smaller and greater coins existed as well.

English spelling[edit]

Russian rubles - banknotes of 1000 and 5000 rubles.

Both the spellings "ruble" and "rouble" are used in English. The form "rouble" is preferred by the Oxford English Dictionary, but the earliest use recorded in English is the now completely obsolete "robble". The form "rouble" probably derives from the transliteration into French used among the Tsarist aristocracy. There are two main usage tendencies: one is for North American authors to use "ruble" and other English speakers to use "rouble", the other is for older sources to use "rouble" and more recent ones to use "ruble". Neither tendency is absolutely consistent.

The Russian plurals that may be seen on the actual currency are modified according to Russian grammar. Numbers 1, 21, 31 etc. (but not 11) are followed by nominative singular рубль, копейка. Numbers 2–4, 22–24, 32–34 etc. (but not 12-14) will be followed by genitive singular рубля, копейки. Numbers 5–20, 25–30, 35–40 etc. will be followed by genitive plural рублей, копеек.

Other languages[edit]

See also: Soviet ruble

In several languages spoken in Russia and the former Soviet Union, the currency name has no etymological relation with ruble. Especially in Turkic languages or languages influenced by them, the ruble is often known (also officially) as som or sum (meaning pure), or manat (from Russian moneta, meaning coin).

Soviet banknotes had their value printed in the languages of 15 republics of the Soviet Union.

List of rubles[edit]



(This list may not contain all historical rubles, especially rubles issued by sub-national entities)

Soviet ruble
  • Sovznak
  • Ruble of the Far-Eastern Republic
  • Transcaucasian ruble
  • Chervonets
  • Soviet ruble, in various Soviet republics the ruble carried local names as well
Post-Soviet currency
Ruble of Imperial Russia
  • Silver ruble (1704–1897), Assignation ruble (1769–1849), Constantine ruble (collectible)
  • Gold ruble (1897–1917), Brut ruble (credit banknote)
  • Copper ruble and Sestroretsk ruble
Rubles of World War I and the Russian Civil War
  • Lithuania ruble / Lithuanian grivna (until 1579)


External links[edit]