"Haven't I told you he's not going?" he hissed. "He's going to Stonewall High and he'll be grateful for it. I've read those letters and he needs all sorts of rubbish –– spell books and wands and ––"
   "If he wants ter go, a great Muggle like you won't stop him," growled Hagrid. "Stop Lily an' James Potter's son goin' ter Hogwarts! Yer mad. His name's been down ever since he was born. He's off ter the finest school of witchcraft and wizardry in the world. Seven years there and he won't know himself. He'll be with youngsters of his own sort, fer a change, an' he'll be under the greatest headmaster Hogwarts ever had Albus Dumbled––"

   "I AM NOT PAYING FOR SOME CRACKPOT OLD FOOL TO TEACH HIM MAGIC TRICKS!" yelled Uncle Vernon. (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone)

Old is used as an intensifier, say these websites: Webster's #5; Wiktionary #12. So I guess the example's old has the meaning after an adjective crackpot. But I’m not sure, ‘cause the websites seem to kind of restrict the boundary of the use. Can old be used as an intensifier after all sorts of adjectives or adjective phrases?

  • 4
    The Muggles in general don't know about it but Vernon and Petunia know about it and even though they try very hard to ignore it, they know that Lily went there, and if you notice, Vernon cuts Hagrid off right in the middle of saying Dumbledore by calling Hagrid's "greatest headmaster Hogwarts ever had" a "crackpot old fool"
    – Jim
    Oct 4 '13 at 5:48
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    I think you can argue for the other interpretation, but to me the literal meaning of old is the most natural one here. The other use has a connotation of familiarity which seems to me to be possibly inappropriate in this case.
    – user230
    Oct 4 '13 at 7:15
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    One thing, I would specifically like to know, how on earth can you enjoy the story if you think so thoroughly about grammar, meaning, pronunciation or anything else you ask here about? :-O
    – Mistu4u
    Oct 4 '13 at 7:45
  • 1
    @Mistu4u thoughts are mutual. +1 "Old" here is being really "old" and said to Dumbledore for sure. Oct 4 '13 at 8:06
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    @StoneyB, Yeah, I agree that if the reader does not know the basic grammar and meaning, he can't enjoy the story for the lack of understandability, however this particular reader is IMHO way above basic grammar, although I don't deny the fact sometimes the questions are quite interesting and sometimes they are the result of reading too much deep into something (like this one IMO).
    – Mistu4u
    Oct 4 '13 at 10:21

I think old has a literal meaning.

This definition seems closest.

c : of long standing

In other words the person has been a fool for a very long time, long enough to prove that that's all he'll ever be.

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