‘compare, vie’

(Modern English even)


ME euen formally continues OE efnan, but EVG argues for (presumably semantic) influence from ON, cp. the OIcel middle voice form jafnask, from jafna (like the OE, formed on the common Gmc adj. *eƀna-, cp. Go ibans ‘flat, even’, ON jafn, jamn ‘even, equal, same’, OE efen ‘even, equal’, OFris (adv.) even ‘same’, OS efni ‘flat, even’, OHG evan, ebano ‘equal, same’). While it is plausible that ON input might have influenced or reinforced this development of the native sense of the v., it is also possible to view it as parallel independent development.

PGmc Ancestor


Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

jafnask ‘to compare oneself, to be equal to, call oneself a match for another’
(ONP jafna (vb.))

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

OE Cognate

efn(i)an, ge-efn(i)an ‘to make even, level; liken, compare’

Phonological and morphological markers

Summary category



MED cites this sense in a variety of texts from Orrm onwards.

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Pe 1073


MED ē̆venen (v.)[], OED even (v.)[], HTOED , EDD even (adj., adv. and v.), Bj. 158, 176, 286, 294, de Vries jafn, Mag. jafn, Orel *eƀnaz, Kroonen *ebna-, Heid. *ebna-