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'Go on, then!' roared Hagrid, slapping the Hippogriff's hindquarters.

Without warning, twelve-foot wings flapped open on either side of Harry; he just had time to seize the Hippogriff around the neck before he was soaring upwards. It was nothing like a broomstick, and Harry knew which one he preferred; the Hippogriff's wings were beating uncomfortably on either side of him, catching him under his legs and making him feel he was about to be thrown off; the glossy feathers slipped under his fingers and he didn't dare get a stronger grip; instead of the smooth action of his Nimbus Two Thousand, he now felt himself rocking backwards and forwards as the hindquarters of the Hippogriff rose and fell with his wings.

It seems to me that "catching him under his legs" means "hitting him under his legs". I can picture that the Hippogriff's wings hit him under his legs and made him off the balance(feels about to be thrown off). But I'm not sure if my understanding is correct? Can the word 'catch' mean 'hit'? What does it mean exactly in this context?

-- From Harry Potter.

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If you look at the Qxford Dictionary, catch has several meanings. Given that the wings are moving, I think that meaning 6 is probably intended:

  1. Strike (someone) on a part of the body

Harry is being repeatedly struck on the underside of his legs by the Hippogriff's wings. you can use the word catch even if the blows are quite gentle.

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"Catching" used here means the wings are making contact with his legs in a way that they pull, hook or tug at them. This is not the same as saying they're hitting them, which implies a pushing or striking force.

Another example of the use of "catching" might be:

He found it hard work to walk through the forest as the branches kept catching on his clothes.

  • Why is 'under' used? Can we put "catch him on his legs"? I'm not sure which part has been touched by "under his legs", his feet? – dan Nov 16 '18 at 4:16

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