What does the highlighted "just" mean in the following paragraph?

Dumbledore turned and walked back down the street. On the corner he stopped and took out the silver Put-Outer. He clicked it once, and twelve balls of light sped back to their street lamps so that Privet Drive glowed suddenly orange and he could make out a tabby cat slinking around the corner at the other end of the street. He could just see the bundle of blankets on the step of number four. “Good luck, Harry,” he murmured. He turned on his heel and with a swish of his cloak, he was gone.

-- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

Which item do I need to pick up for the just on OALD or other else?

  • 5
    I like Collins #12 because it had the one word I was looking for: barely. He could barely see the bundle of blankets...
    – J.R.
    Commented Sep 2, 2013 at 21:28

1 Answer 1


I believe this is OALD sense #4, 'by a small amount'. In this case, it suggests that Dumbledore has limited visibility of the bundle of blankets.

It could be used to mean he could only see a small part of the object due to an obstruction or, in this case more likely, that the darkness is making it harder to see.

You can also take clues from the rest of the passage and your knowledge of Dumbledore as a character. He is elderly and usually portrayed with glasses. Phrases like "he could make out a tabby cat" ('make out' implies some difficulty in discerning something) contribute to the suggestion that his sight is in some way impaired.


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