I found it in the Preface of Kipling’s ‘Life’s Handicap,’ and it appears not to have the standard meaning of nevertheless as discussed in How to use 'even so'? Here is an extended quote for context. Kipling is talking to a man named Gobind. "Even so" occurs five parapgraphs down.

‘And what,’ said Gobind one Sunday afternoon, ‘is your honoured craft, and by what manner of means earn you your daily bread?’

‘I am,’ said I, ‘a kerani – one who writes with a pen upon paper, not being in the service of the Government.’

‘Then what do you write?’ said Gobind. ‘Come nearer, for I cannot see your countenance, and the light fails.’

‘I write about all matters that lie within my understanding, and of many that are not. But chiefly I write of Life and Death, and of men and women, and Love and Fate according to the measure of my ability, telling the tale through the mouths of one, two, or more people. Then by the favour of God money accrues to me that I may keep alive.’

'Even so,' said Gobind. 'That is the work of the bazar story−teller; but he speaks straight to men and women and does not write anything at all. Only when the tale has aroused expectation, and calamities are about to befall the virtuous, he stops suddenly and demands payment ere he continues the narration. Is it so in your craft, my son?'

Yes, it is a full stop after “ ‘Even so,’ said Gobind.” So it looks a thought it means something other than “nevertheless” or “that being the case." Can anyone help?

There is another instance in the same book, in “Little Tobrah. Little Tobrah has just mentioned a little sister. Then it goes:

‘She who was found dead in the well?’ said one who had heard something of the trial. ‘Even so,’ said Little Tobrah gravely. ‘She who was found dead in the well.’

In this case, I think it clearly means “yes” or “exactly.” Can anyone help me with the first quote? Kipling often puts unusual, somewhat archaic, I think, constructions in the mouth of Indians. It is possibly the case here.

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    I think you're right about all that. I also don’t know that what Kipling puts in the mouths of subcontinentals is any more unusual or archaic than what they themselves actually put there. :)
    – tchrist
    Aug 4, 2015 at 18:23
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    I'm not sure about the first one (haven't bothered to search for the full context), but the second one is akin to if someone agreed with my comment here, and posted a comment underneath it starting with the one-word "sentence" Indeed. That's to say, what Little Tobrah means to convey is an emphatic Even though you might not believe it, what you said is so true. It's a bit dated/archaic/poetic - today she's probably say Absolutely! or similar. Aug 4, 2015 at 18:24
  • I have now vastly expanded the first quote. I fully agree with your interpretation of the second example.
    – Jacinto
    Aug 4, 2015 at 19:15
  • Jacinto - Now you've supplied more context for the first one, it seems pretty clear @DJClayworth is right that essentially it could be replaced by That's true. Although I would add that I think the usage always implies something like Although what you said is true, I have something more to add which appears to be contradictory (i.e. - what some of us might call a "Yeah, but" type of response). Aug 4, 2015 at 21:37
  • That's true works fine in the second example, but I'm not quite sure about the first: Govind is in no position to tell whether what Kipling said about his writing stories for money is true or not. Unless he is referring to the last bit only, i.e. it is true you need money so that you may keep alive.
    – Jacinto
    Aug 4, 2015 at 22:34

1 Answer 1


Amongst other meanings, "Even so" means "That's true".

It's a slightly archaic and formal usage, but would be fairly normal in Kipling's time.

In the second the meaning makes complete sense. Essentially: "She who was found dead in the well?" "Yes, she who was found dead in the well.".

In your first example it may well mean that, but we'd need more of a quote to be sure.

  • I fully agree as to the second example, I've edited the question, expanding the first quote.
    – Jacinto
    Aug 4, 2015 at 19:13
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    Even as an emphatic is attested around 1400 and even as, even so meaning "exactly" are attested as early as 1300. See 7f and 9 here: quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/m/mec/…
    – Tim
    Aug 5, 2015 at 18:42

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