They didn't meet anyone else until they reached the staircase up to the third floor. Peeves was bobbing halfway up, loosening the carpet so that people would trip.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Does the word "bobbing" imply movement towards the middle of the stair, or movement up and down at the middle of the stair?

*Peeves is a ghost

  • 3
    Since Peeves is a ghost, he "bobs" up and down in the air on the staircase (like something floating on "choppy" water). His movement is up and down - nothing to do with "the middle" of the stairway (horizontally OR vertically). But somehow, his bumping / bobbing on the stair carpet is enough to loosen it (ghosts move in mysterious ways! :) Commented May 28, 2023 at 20:13
  • Look up the word in a dictionary before posting please.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 29, 2023 at 15:00

1 Answer 1


From Merriam-Webster:

bob intransitive verb 1 a : to move up and down briefly or repeatedly

Peeves is a ghost and cannot stand on stairs, but instead floats in the air with a periodic up-and-down movement.

If a non-ghost character had been loosening the carpet there, it would have read, "standing halfway up" instead.

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