. . .and a few moments later, with a great lurch, the long procession of carriages was rumbling and splashing its way up the track toward Hogwarts Castle. Through the gates, flanked with statues of winged boars, and up the sweeping drive the carriages trundled, swaying dangerously in what was fast becoming a gale.

Harry potter and the Goblet of Fire

What's the meaning of "sweeping drive" here? If the original sentence is "the carriages trundled up the sweeping drive,"(am I right?) is drive like a road or something? And I don't know what sweeping means here either.

3 Answers 3


The 'drive' referred to here is a driveway in US English. It is the road that typically leads to the entry of a building.

In this context, the drive is the road (or pathway for the carriages) leading to the door of Hogwarts Castle from the gates of the castle.

'Sweeping' in this context refers to large and continuous - both in size, as well as having a large radius. When used like this, it is used to convey the impression of grandeur.

  • 2
    Cite for sweeping meaning "large and continuous" ? "Sweeping is: curving or circular course or line [Merriam Webster]" – Lambie. It's what's halfway between boringly straight and winding.
    – Mazura
    Feb 7, 2018 at 0:00
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    @Mazura: continue reading m-w: "extensive", with synonyms "broad, deep, expansive, extended, far-flung, far-reaching, rangy, extensive, wide, wide-ranging, widespread". Or see Collins, "extending over the whole range or a great space".
    – shoover
    Feb 7, 2018 at 0:32
  • @shoover - "Definition of sweeping for Students. adjective "1 : moving or extending in a wide curve or over a wide area a sweeping driveway - 2. : extensive sweeping changes" – MW. It does mean both, but only one of the examples has the word driveway in it. (!) Ok sure; large, but where's continuous? Any driveway worth writing home about is probably large, and unless there's some geometry going on, why would we be talking about it anyway?
    – Mazura
    Feb 7, 2018 at 0:52

"Drive" in this sense means a private road connecting the main building on a property to the public road. It usually is used with reference to a road leading to a large structure, eg a mansion, through a scenic or decorated landscape on a large piece of property. "Sweeping" here implies "gracefully impressive" and easily traveled. Many such drives end in a carriage sweep that allowed horse drawn carriages a graceful and easy way to change direction and exit after entering.

EDIT: As always in defining words or phrases, I should specify that I am not qualified to discuss nuances in British English. I tried in my topic sentence to indicate the denotative meaning being used: a private road joining the public road and the main building. In the US, such a road if short may occasionally be referred to as a "drive" but will typically be referred to as a "drive way" with "drive" being reserved for an unusually long such road. Apparently usage is different in the UK. However, in the passage quoted by the OP, the idea of a substantial road in a pleasing landscape on private property is what is meant, not a slab of concrete 2 meters wide and 3 meters long.

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    At least in the UK the term "drive" is used for everything from short suburban stubs to the long driveways of mansions. Feb 6, 2018 at 16:15
  • 2
    @PeterGreen It's the same in AmE. There are mansions with sweeping drives here too. And yes, a drive is longer than a drive way, for a regular house. Sweeping is: curving or circular course or line [Merriam Webster]
    – Lambie
    Feb 6, 2018 at 17:02

It means it's not straight.

adjective | sweep·ing | \ ˈswē-piŋ \

1 : moving or extending in a wide curve or over a wide area

a sweeping driveway


"up the sweeping drive the carriages trundled, swaying dangerously"

They're swaying dangerously because the driver has to turn the carriage to follow the curvature of the sweeping driveway. Here's a "cleaned up version" of Hogwarts showing a drive with gentle curves, originally drawn supposedly by the author herself.

enter image description here


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