'Orange. Tell me, boy, does anything penetrate that thick skull of yours? Didn't you hear me say, quite clearly, that only one rat spleen was needed? ...'

As I know, "thick skull" means "slow to learn; stupid". But what does "does anything penetrate that thick skull of yours" imply? Does it mean he had learnt something wrong or something got into one's thick skull and made him crazy/abnormal or something? What does it mean exactly?

-- From Harry Potter.

2 Answers 2


I think it has the same meaning of "get something into/through your thick skull":

to start understanding something. This expression is used when you are angry and you think someone is being stupid

  • Will you get it into your thick skull that I’m not coming!

The question

Does anything penetrate that thick skull...

does not mean, as you thought it might, that he had learnt something that caused him to go crazy or anything like that. The tense is all wrong for that supposed meaning, for one thing, and anything might also be something. It would be

Did something penetrate that thick skull...?

That is how a question would be posed if asking about something that might have already happened to him. The question would use the past tense, did.

The present tense does ... penetrate refers to the standard, usual, or normal state of affairs. So the question means Does anything (any idea or fact) ever manage to penetrate that thick skull? In other words, "Are you capable of learning anything?"

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