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“Look at the balance on it! If the Nimbus series has a fault, it's a slight list to the tail end — you often find they develop a drag after a few years. They've updated the handle too, a bit slimmer than the Cleansweeps, reminds me of the old Silver Arrows — a pity they've stopped making them. I learned to fly on one, and a very fine old broom it was too…”

I'm not sure what "a drag" is supposed to mean here. The context is talking about the broomsticks they flew on. I've looked up the word 'drag' in dictionaries, but I don't know which one is fit for the context.

  • Did you understand the phrase "a slight list to the tail end"? – Tᴚoɯɐuo Nov 23 '18 at 13:32
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo That's hard part too. List has a special meaning there. I managed to find it in a dictionary, but I'm not quite sure if I get the meaning of the whole phrase exactly especially the use of 'to'. It will be great if you can spell it up. – dan Nov 23 '18 at 13:50
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    to can express an attribute relationship: There was a pleasant lilt to her voice. That is, her voice had a lilt. That's all there is to it. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Nov 23 '18 at 14:16
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo Hmmm, I don't understand "that's all there is to it". :( – dan Nov 23 '18 at 15:18
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    "That's all there is to it" means "it is not more complicated than that" or "it is as simple as that". It has no more steps or things to be considered. That sentence is not referring to her voice, BTW, but was a second example. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Nov 23 '18 at 15:21
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The correct definition is this one:

physics: the retarding force acting on a body (such as an airplane) moving through a fluid (such as air) parallel and opposite to the direction of motion
Merriam-Webster

Yeah, that's hard to understand. It's roughly synonymous with "air resistance" (or "water resistance" if traveling through water, etc.). Drag is what makes a parachute slow down when falling, for example.

An image makes it a little clearer:

In other words, after a few years brooms slow down because they are experiencing increased air resistance (I've always thought that this was because the bristles get bent and stick out).

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  • So, it could be because "it's a slight list to the tail end", right? – dan Nov 23 '18 at 6:02
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    @dan From the way it's written it sounds like that's something that's there from the start. Also, I'm not sure if it would even cause drag: a "list" here means the broom is steering more to one direction than the other when it should be going straight. – Laurel Nov 23 '18 at 6:07
  • @dan it's a little silly to look for precise explanations of the physics of magical flying brooms. Some things we have to just take on faith. :) – Andrew Nov 23 '18 at 7:02
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I knew you were referring to the movement version of the word "drag" so with that in mind, I found this:

Merriam Webster

2) Drag (noun): motion effected with slowness or difficulty also : the condition of having or seeming to have such motion. Merriam

However, since you're referring to a flying broom, to be accurate, I looked up the aerodynamic definition of the word "drag".

NASA (with some edits):

Drag is the aerodynamic force that opposes an aircraft's motion through the air (in this case, the "aircraft" happens to be a broom). Drag is generated by every part of the broom (even a listing, tail end!).

I hope that helps.

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