In Reply to: Even steven(s) posted by Dianne Boddy on May 26, 2008 at 08:52:
: An internet search on "Even stevens vs. even steven" it is noted that Even Stevens was an Australian horse that one two major cups in Melbourne in 1962. Even Stevens was a New Zealand horse owned by Sir James Wattie and brought to Melbourne for the cup carnival. He visited the company who employed me at that time. The phrase "Even Stevens" definitely gained prominence following his two significant wins. I have no recollection of ever hearing the phrase prior to 1962 although it may have been a dormant expression in Melbourne.
Here is another theory:
EVEN STEVEN -- The term apparently stems from a character in Jonathan Swift's "Journal to Stella" : "'Now we are even,' quote Steven, when he gave his wife six blows to one.' Stella was Swift's name for Esther Johnson, and his 'Journal' letters to her described his daily life in London. Their relationship was a complicated one. Swift, 14 years Stella's senior, taught her to read and write, loved her all his life and when he died was buried beside her, but the two lovers probably never married." From the "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997).