I am reading a Harry Potter fan fiction.

Hermione go back in time when Tom Riddle is a student. She get to be in Hogwarts as a year seven pupil. (as Dumbledore's niece. Aberforth Dumbledore adopt her. so her name became Hermione "Dumbledore". not Hermione "Granger".)

On Hogsmeade weekend trip, Hermione go to the Hog's Head of Aberforth with Mcgonagall. Tom Riddle also go there with Cygnus Black and Abraxas Malfoy. After Hermione left, Aberforth ask the boys.

"Does Hermione seem happy up at school?"

What does "up" mean?

  • 4
    What is the name of the novel (and page/chapter for the excerpt)? The quote you've put here has an obvious spelling error (Does or Dose?) A little more context will help.
    – hjpotter92
    Commented Aug 18, 2014 at 5:31
  • 1
    And her doesn't make sense here, it leaves the sentence without a subject. The whole quote is weird. But the problem does not lie with up.
    – None
    Commented Aug 18, 2014 at 6:31
  • This seems like a sentence from a strongly regional dialect to me. Would that make sense in the context of the novel?
    – jfhc
    Commented Aug 18, 2014 at 8:08
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    I think up there is just an idiom of that particular, unspecified regional dialect. I think the phrase just means "Does she seem happy at school ?" Commented Aug 18, 2014 at 16:11

2 Answers 2


Native English speakers often colloquially use "up" to mean "located north" and "down" to mean "located south". If my friend was going to school in the north I would say she was "up at school", if her school was south I might say "down at school". I might not even really know where the school is and still say "up" just because it makes the sentence flow better.

In this sentence it essentially has no meaning; you could understand it to mean exactly the same thing as:

"Does she seem happy at school?"

(You can say "over" to mean "located east" or "west".)

  • 3
    I’d add that using ‘up’ or ‘down’ emphasizes the fact that the difference in location is significant. Reading ‘happy up at school’, I’d assume it was a boarding school, not the local school in town, because it emphasizes the fact that school is a significantly different place. If the phrase was just ‘happy at school,’ it would tell me nothing either way about a boarding school or a local one.
    – Karen
    Commented Aug 19, 2014 at 16:23

"Dose her seem happy up at school?"

This could be a really interesting question...

Those first two words? Typo or phonetic representation? It certainly makes more sense if read out loud with a comedy hillbilly accent.

It's the second part that interests me - I've never heard the term 'up at school' used like that, but I have heard 'up to' in relation to Oxford or Cambridge universities.

I believe it's quite an old usage (or affectation) - one does not merely attend one of these institutions one 'goes up' at the beginning of a term and 'comes down' at the end.

A Google search on "happy up at school" pulls back 4 pages, each of which use the term, quite colloquially, to refer to time spent at a US college. I didn't read them in detail but them seemed to imply a residential stay, away from home. Much like the experience of a university student going up to Oxford.

So, I think it's fair to say that the example refers to the character's time at school or college.

But I wonder if there is a direct link between this current colloquial use and the traditional one or whether it is just coincidence.

  • 1
    I'm assuming the "dose" does mean "does". I'll add that "up at school" sounds quite normal to this U.S. ear – no hillbilly accent required :^) That said, I would utter this as, "Does she seem happy up at school?" so maybe "dose" is an intentional misspelling, intended to convey the accent you allude to.
    – J.R.
    Commented Aug 18, 2014 at 9:54

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