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"We can do nothing for him," said the Tin Woodman sadly. "He is much too heavy to lift. We must leave him here to sleep on forever, and perhaps he will dream that he has found courage at last."

"I'm sorry," said the Scarecrow. "The Lion was a very good comrade for one so cowardly. But let us go on."

The wonderful Wizard of Oz

My take is that "for one so cowardly" here means because the lion is so cowardly, but I have no confidence. Is "for one so cowardly" short for something? Is it a normal expression?

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It means, roughly paraphrased, "The Lion was a very good comrade, taking into account the fact that he was so cowardly, and as such you might expect him not to be a very good comrade".

More examples which might help illustrate the construction - "You eat a lot for someone so thin". "She spends a lot for someone so poor".

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  • Is it also correct to say: You eat a lot for someone thin?
    – dan
    Mar 8, 2020 at 8:25
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    @dan It is only natural to use either "so" or a comparative "as... as" Mar 8, 2020 at 16:56
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You might know that in the Wizard of Oz the lion was The Cowardly Lion for he wasn't brave (or brave enough).

  • for one so cowardly refers to The Cowardly Lion as he was Scarecrow's comrade and friend (as far as I can recall).

It means here that for a lion (one) so cowardly as The Cowardly Lion he was a very good comrade.

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