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"... in the end he managed to Apparate out, even though he'd never passed his test. He nearly died doing it. Everyone thought it was a really good story, but I was the only one who realized what it meant - ..."

Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince

I think the sentence "He nearly died doing it" could mean:

  1. He nearly died while doing it(Apparated out).

  2. He was trying very hard(probably at any cost) to Apparate out.

I don't know which one is correct. What's it supposed to mean here?

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    In context, it seems likely he would have tried really hard to "apparate out" (some weird coinage of Rowling's alluding to (ghostly) apparitions, I guess). But that's just something you might think because of the context. The words themselves simply assert that "apparating out" was difficult / dangerous, and came close to killing him. Aug 9, 2019 at 15:07
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    There is no meaning in this context. It would be the same in any context. It means he almost lost his life.
    – Lambie
    Aug 9, 2019 at 15:31
  • @FumbleFingers I tried to compare to the phrase "die trying" which means trying very hard, but not dying literally. So, I might think "died doing" here along the same line. That's why I was unsure what it meant exactly.
    – dan
    Aug 10, 2019 at 4:42
  • I'm familiar with the metaphoric hyperbole He nearly killed himself trying to [do something] (which doesn't necessarily imply success or failure, just extreme effort). But I wouldn't say to die trying has any significant currency in the sense of to try very hard. Whatever - the example you cite is a straightforward literal usage (subject really did come close to being killed in his attempts to "apparate"). Aug 10, 2019 at 12:49

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The question was answered in the comments:

"The words themselves simply assert that "apparating out" was difficult / dangerous, and came close to killing him." – FumbleFingers

and

"There is no meaning in this context. It would be the same in any context. It means he almost lost his life." – Lambie

and

"Whatever - the example you cite is a straightforward literal usage (subject really did come close to being killed in his attempts to "apparate")." – FumbleFingers

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