Uncle Vernon didn't go to work that day. He stayed at home and nailed up the mail slot. "See" he explained to Aunt Petunia through a mouthful of nails, "if they can't deliver them they'll just give up." "I'm not sure that'll work, Vernon"

It's from Harry potter, and I'm not sure if 'mouthful of nails' here means 'Uncle Vernon's mouth was full of nails' or.. Does it have something completely different meaning? Cause I thought it's strange if someone is stuffing his mouth with nails.


2 Answers 2


It is common practice to use one's mouth as an additional "hand" to hold small nontoxic objects


mouthful of nails

might mean

(source: futurederm.com)

but since your text has given he context of "He stayed at home and nailed up the mail slot."
It must be the first image.


He's boarding up the door, and was using his mouth as a convenient place to hold them since both his hands are full. (One with the hammer, the other with the nail being hammered)

This is common practice.

mouthful of nails

Image credit: Google Images

  • 1
    "Image credit: Google images" is useless and meaningless. It's like saying "Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?" — credit: the library. If you're going to attribute an image, you must say who created the image and where exactly you found it, not which site you used to find it in the first place.
    – randomhead
    Commented Feb 5, 2022 at 18:36

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