Neville nodded nervously, but Moody made no further inquiries. Turning back to the class at large, he reached into the jar for the next spider and placed it upon the desktop, where it remained motionless, apparently too scared to move.

This is a scene from Harry Potter And the Goblet of Fire in which Moody showed three unforgivable curses to the students. After Moody had used a curse to torture the first spider, Neville Longbottom gave the second correct curse name: the Cruciatus Curse and Moody is poised to use it on the second spider.

"At large" has the meaning: at liberty; escaped or not yet captured.

"Turning back to the class at large" seems to be saying that Moody tortures spiders cruelly without fear of punishment?

  • 2
    at large is an idiomatic expression. It has several possible meanings depending on the context. The at liberty, escaped sense is used when referring to criminals or a dangerous person/animal. In the example however, at large has a different meaning here. It means as a a whole. You could reword it as the whole class.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Jun 25, 2022 at 12:55

1 Answer 1


At large has different meanings: (Oxford Dictionary)

  1. ​(of a dangerous person or animal) not captured; free
    Her killer is still at large.
  1. (used after a noun) as a whole; in general
    the opinion of the public at large

This means that the teacher turned his/her attention back (from a particular student) to the whole class.

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