What does the phrase in bold mean?

At once, the spider’s legs bent in upon its body; it rolled over and began to twitch horribly, rocking from side to side.

I think: The spider's legs bent inward on top of its body not under its body. I found this sentence in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

I want to know what this process looks like. (the way its legs are bent, the shape it gets into. Basically, what a native speaker would understand when he or she reads it.)

  • My immediate image is of a dead spider on its back, with its legs curled in, though the surrounding context may indicate otherwise.
    – Katy
    Jul 12, 2020 at 14:22
  • You can see the movie's representation of it here.
    – Alex
    Jul 12, 2020 at 15:09
  • So the Movie's representation is wrong
    – Ravi Vanam
    Jul 12, 2020 at 19:15
  • A movie doesn't accurately represent every small detail from a book. You should be able to imagine what it would be like if your legs were bent in underneath you, and imagine a spider doing similar. But I don't suppose native readers give the phrase much thought, other than to imagine the spider is rolled up or tucked in or otherwise made small.
    – Stuart F
    Jan 3 at 12:42

1 Answer 1


In this context, I think it's fair to assume that the author intends the reader to have only a basic understanding of how a spider moves. Therefore, I visualize this sentence as a spider with its legs folded under the body not over the body since a spider's legs don't naturally move in that way. Here's a picture similar to how I would visualize it:enter image description here

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .