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... Hermione had been right; Professor Flitwick did indeed test them on Cheering Charms. Harry slightly overdid his out of nerves and Ron, who was partnering him, ended up in fits of hysterical laughter and had to be led away to a quiet room for an hour before he was ready to perform the charm himself. ...

I don't quite get what "out of nerves" means in this context. I've looked it up and it doesn't seem to be a set phrase. I guess it could mean "Harry is nervous, so he slightly overdid his Cheering Charms...". But I don't know if my understanding is correct. How should we understand it here?

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The phrase out of means "because of" or "motivated by".

She said that out of jealousy.

Because he was nervous.

P.S. But I should add that it sounds strange to my ear when used of something that is not truly a motive (fear, envy, jealousy, love, respect, anger, concern, etc).

  • I understand why @dan is confused, because I am too. Shouldn't it be "out of nerve", being nerve uncountable, to mean that Harry was nervous? Could it mean also that a sort of "no worries" spell, being "out of nerves" a kind of charm, was casted on Ron and it went wrong? – RubioRic Nov 26 '18 at 12:46
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    @RubioRic: nerve in the singular means audacity whereas nerves in the plural refers to "the jitters", the shaky and insecure feeling of nervousness. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Nov 26 '18 at 12:50
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    @RubioRic The expression is you're getting on my nerves. (Although some people turn it into a joke and say you're getting on my last nerve.) Also, we refer to people as having a case of the nerves (not a case of the nerve). In general, expressions involving the word use it in a plural form. The one exception I can think of is when somebody says they are getting up their nerve to do something. But nerve is being used in a different sense in that expression. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Nov 26 '18 at 13:30

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