As the closest bead of light moved nearer to Harry's wand tip, the wood beneath his fingers grew so hot he feared it would burst into flame. The closer that bead moved, the harder Harry's wand vibrated; he was sure his wand would not survive contact with it; it felt as though it was about to shatter under his fingers -

I guess "survive contact with" here means his wand would be broken/shattered once contacting with the bead. I'm wondering if "survive contact with" is a set phrase? The closest one I got: no plan survives contact with the enemy. It might be slightly different. I'd also like to know what part of speech "contact" is, noun or verb?

  • 1
    What made you think it's an idiom? Have you looked up the word survive in a dictionary? Contact is a noun in that sentence.
    – user3395
    Dec 30, 2018 at 14:10

1 Answer 1


You may not survive contact with a high-voltage power line.

Superman can survive contact with a high-voltage power line.

Notice that the preposition depends on the preceding noun:

Some bacteria cannot survive exposure to sunlight.

Contact with, exposure to.

That which was survived is that which did not kill the survivor.

He survived the surgical operation.

Sometimes survive is used as hyperbole, figuratively:

He survived the midterm exam.

  • So, it should read as: [Superman can survive] [contact with a high-voltage power line.] Can it be paraphrased as: Superman can survive when contact with a high-voltage power line.?
    – dan
    Dec 30, 2018 at 18:51
  • Wondering if "contact with.." is an object of 'survive' or its complement?
    – dan
    Dec 30, 2018 at 19:03
  • @dan As userr2684291 remarked in his or her comment at the top of the page, contact is a noun in the OP. So in this most recent paraphrase of yours, "when contact with a high-voltage power line" there is a grammatical error: your clause is missing a verb. "... when contact is made with a high-voltage power line".
    – TimR
    Dec 30, 2018 at 19:04
  • contact with a high-voltage power line is a noun-phrase and is the direct object of the verb survive.
    – TimR
    Dec 30, 2018 at 19:05

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