Nevertheless, Harry was determined to find out more about Riddle, so, next day at break, he headed for the trophy room to examine Riddle's special award, accompanied by an interested Hermione and a thoroughly unconvinced Ron, who told them he'd seen enough of the trophy room to last him a lifetime.

I don't quite understand the last part of the sentence, especially "to last him a lifetime". Maybe, it's a special use of 'last' there, which I haven't found a good definition from dictionaries to fit the context.

The close definition I got from dictionaries is:

If an event, situation, or problem lasts for a particular length of time, it continues to exist or happen for that length of time. The marriage had lasted for less than two years. [VERB + for]

But it doesn't explain well in the context.

What does it truly mean?

-- From Harry Potter.


Enough of X to last a lifetime is an idiomatic expression, indicating that one is thoroughly tired of something and never want to see it again. As I recall, earlier in the book Ron had been set the punishment of cleaning every trophy in the trophy room by hand; he had therefore spent a LOT of time in the trophy room recently, and did not want to return there.

The literal meaning is that one has done/seen so much of X, one does not need to do/see X ever again in their life. It's generally not considered literally, though, and just means "I've had enough for now".

A second example, from the first episode of Sherlock:

Sherlock: Seen a lot of [...] trouble, too, I bet.

Watson: Of course. Yes. Enough for a lifetime. Far too much.

Sherlock: Want to see some more?

Watson: Oh, God, yes!

In this example, Watson is trying to claim that he's tired of seeing war and violence. It's deliberately contrasted with his next line, where he shows that despite his protests, he does still want the excitement that comes from 'trouble'.

The phrase can be structured in a number of ways, too - Enough X to last a lifetime, Enough for a lifetime, Enough to last ME a lifetime, or, if one is being hyperbolic, Enough for several lifetimes. All indicate the same thing.

  • In this sentence, it also added 'him' in the middle - last him a life time. Is that also normal? – dan Nov 5 '18 at 14:05
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    Yes - it's talking about what Ron had said. His exact sentence was probably "I've seen enough of the trophy room to last me a lifetime". – Werrf Nov 5 '18 at 14:13

"enough to last a life time" is a set phrase in English.

It means that you have had so much of something that you never want any more. The thing may have been enjoyable at first but now you are bored with it and do not wish to experience it ever again.

Cross-posted with Astralbee

  • In this sentence, it also added 'him' in the middle - last him a life time. Is that also normal? – dan Nov 5 '18 at 14:12
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    Yes. You can add me, him, her, us, them, everyone, the explorers, John, Susan, etc. E.g. "She had had enough late nights to last any shift-worker a lifetime so she resigned and got a day job." – chasly from UK Nov 5 '18 at 14:28

This is a common expression.

If you had a "lifetime's supply" of something, you wouldn't need any more, ever. The supply would never run out - it would "last" forever.

So if you have seen/done enough of something "to last a lifetime" it means you don't feel you need to see or do that ever again. You've had enough of it.

  • In this sentence, it also added 'him' in the middle - last him a life time. Is that also normal? – dan Nov 5 '18 at 14:11
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    @dan The book is written in the third person, ie a narrator. The narrator is expressing the feelings of the characters. So yes, perfectly normal. Of course to express the feelings of someone else in real life you would have to know what they are. – Astralbee Nov 5 '18 at 14:14

to last means "to suffice, as when serving a need, to reach".

Will the gas last until we reach the next service stop on the turnpike, or should we fill up here?

Do we have enough hay for the animals to last the winter?

Do we have enough hay for the animals to last us the winter?

Does she have enough hay for her animals to last her the winter?

Is there enough hay for the animals to last Farmer Jones the winter?

That is, will the amount of gas we have in the tank suffice to get us to the next service station? Is there enough hay for the entire season?

The adverbial phrase following the verb expresses a duration: a lifetime, until we reach the next service stop on the turnpike, the winter.

A noun-phrase following the verb (in addition to the adverbial phrase) refers to the entity who needs the amount to suffice for the stated duration.

So, if we suppose there's some need to see the trophy room, the amount of it that Ron has seen is enough to reach until the end of his life, or at least what he considers to be the average person's life and need to see the trophies. He feels no need to see any more of it -- ever again.

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