Lockhart, who had so often assured them that all danger had passed, only to be proved wrong straight away, was now wholeheartedly convinced that it was hardly worth the trouble to see them safely down the corridors. His hair wasn't as sleek as usual; it seemed he had been up most of the night, patrolling the fourth floor.

I'm not sure what role "only to be proved wrong straight away" is playing in the sentence. How should we understand it in this context?

-- From Harry Potter.

  • What part of the phrase don't you understand? The passive? Only? straight away?
    – TimR
    Nov 7, 2018 at 10:01
  • 1
    He slept overnight in the ticket line for the concert, only to be told when he reached the window that the tickets were sold out . Do you see the contrast, the "reverse spin"? He fought the big fish for two hours, hours that made his back ache, only to have the fish break the line just as it was about to be brought into the boat.
    – TimR
    Nov 7, 2018 at 10:01
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo Thanks! Now I got it. Is it a kind of sarcasm?
    – dan
    Nov 7, 2018 at 10:09
  • 1
    It is a kind of thwarting. The second statement runs counter to the first. It deflates the first. Or expresses a disappointment of some kind. Hopes dashed, or effort negated. Or assurances proved empty. And the counter-stroke often comes at the most inopportune moment. For Lockhart, he is proved wrong "straight away", that is, immediately. For the fisherman and the would-be concert goer, at the very last moment.
    – TimR
    Nov 7, 2018 at 10:14
  • 2
    A synonym is "and for all that, ...".
    – TimR
    Nov 7, 2018 at 10:20

1 Answer 1


Separating out the clause into a separate sentence would read as: "Lockhart had so often assured them that all danger had passed, only to be proved wrong straight away."

Expanding/parsing the sentence:

Lockhart had often on previous occasions claimed that the danger they were facing was over. Every time he did, he would be proven wrong immediately.

As pointed out by @Tᴚoɯɐuo , this construction "A did X, only Y happened" is a construction which contrasts an action with its failure. (A "thwarting" as they called it.) "I worked hard, only to fail."

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