Does the part in boldface mean that the man has the advantage which the weaker species don't have? Oxford dict. states "even" as "equal in number, amount, or value", and "over" as "at a higher level or layer than". Why does "even" pair with "over" here?

As to animals who have really more strength than man has address, he is, in regard to them, what other weaker species are, who find means to subsist notwithstanding; he has even this great advantage over such weaker species, that being equally fleet with them, and finding on every tree an almost inviolable asylum, he is always at liberty to take it or leave it, as he likes best, and of course to fight or to fly, whichever is most agreeable to him.

-- from Rousseau's “Discourse on Inequality”

1 Answer 1


Why does “even” pair with “over” here?

The pairing is mere coincidence. That is, the sentence says “he has even X”, and X, which could be practically anything, happens to contain the word over.

Rather than saying that within the phrase “he has even X”, even means “equal in number, amount, or value”, it seems slightly more clear to say that even is being used in an archaic manner that means exactly or just so. See even, sense 1.

The X phrase, “this great advantage over such weaker species”, refers to an advantage and says what that advantage is over. That is, it refers to an advantage that appears in comparison with “weaker species”.

The construction “P has an advantage over Q” means that by comparison with Q, P has some advantage. Rather than over meaning “at a higher level or layer than”, it is like sense 7 of wiktionary's entry for preposition over: “(in certain collocations) As compared to. [eg] Sales are down this quarter over last.

  • Could you explain "over" more elaborate here? Commented Dec 10, 2013 at 3:34
  • @wangzhihao, see edit Commented Dec 10, 2013 at 4:00

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .