"I accept there's something strange about you, probably nothing a good beating wouldn't have cured - and as for all this about your parents, well, they were weirdos, no denying it, and the world's better off without them in my opinion - asked for all they got, getting mixed up with these wizarding types - just what I expected, always knew they'd come to a sticky end -" (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone)

What’s the meaning of the highlighted part?

  • 2
    I think that the reason this question has two close votes is not because what you want to know isn't interesting and on-topic (it is) but because you haven't actually said much in the question. Can you expand upon your confusion? What you think it might mean, perhaps? I'd hate to see this question closed, because the topic is good, the content could just use improvement.
    – WendiKidd
    Commented Mar 28, 2013 at 16:31
  • From here (ell.stackexchange.com/questions/how-to-ask): Have you thoroughly searched for an answer before asking your question? Sharing your research helps everyone. Tell us what you found and why it didn’t meet your needs. This demonstrates that you’ve taken the time to try to help yourself, it saves us from reiterating obvious answers, and most of all it helps you get a more specific and relevant answer!
    – Matt
    Commented Mar 29, 2013 at 0:38
  • To piggy-back on what Matt and Wendi said, I'd like to at least see the word "beating" looked up in a dictionary, and perhaps "good beating" looked up as an idiom or expression, with the results shown here, along with a bit more elaboration about where the confusion rests. That's how Yoichi would have asked this question on ELU.
    – J.R.
    Commented Mar 29, 2013 at 10:12
  • @WendiKidd: I agree with you. Moreover, if the topic is good, but the O.P. hasn't "said much in the question," I think a downvote is at least as appropriate as a close vote. When I hover over my downvote button, I read, This question does not show any research effort. That seems to be a good description of what I see here.
    – J.R.
    Commented Mar 29, 2013 at 10:19

3 Answers 3


This is probably Harry's uncle Vernon telling Harry that had he been spanked (beaten) very hard instead of treated like a special child, there would be nothing strange about him. Vernon believes that violence solves problems and that beating Harry every time he used magic would have killed the magic, or at least Harry's desire to use magic, and that he would have grown up to be a normal boy, like Vernon and Petunia's son Dudley.

There's a saying in English: Spare the rod and spoil the child. It means that children flourish and grow up well only if they are strongly disciplined mentally, emotionally, and physically. It's from the King James Version of the Christian Bible, Proverbs 13:24:

He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.

It's justification for corporal punishment.

  • Thank you for giving me the good chance to read the Proverb. And I have a question. Is 'nothing' an adverb or pronoun?
    – Listenever
    Commented Mar 28, 2013 at 14:32
  • @listenever: A pronoun: "Your strangeness is nothing [pronoun functioning as subject complement] that (relative pronoun) a good beating wouldn't have cured".
    – user264
    Commented Mar 28, 2013 at 15:50

They are saying that beating up Harry (or possibly a "good spanking") would make him more "normal".

This is a phrase that's sometimes used to say that someone needs to be disciplined by the speaker or the person's parents, etc.

In this context they're saying that Harry is strange, but not so strange that he couldn't be "normal" if people would "correct" him when he's being odd - so he would learn how to act like others do.


Physical punishment. Here's the desc from wiki.

Corporal punishment is a form of physical punishment that involves the deliberate infliction of pain as retribution for an offence, or for the purpose of disciplining or reforming a wrongdoer, or to deter attitudes or behaviour deemed unacceptable.

"any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however light."

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